Belarus: Press freedom squeezed

Independent mass media in Belarus was increasingly pressured and censored by official authorities in 2006, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). Belarus is among the world's 10 most-censored countries.

"Authorities arrested scores of home and foreign journalists, who were trying to cover the election campaign and protests after it in the capital against violations during the elections. For months before the elections the Alexander Lukashenko administration practically disabled independent and oppositional mass media," wrote the CPJ.

Censorship and State-control worsened during the elections, as state mail simply didn't deliver newspapers that were critical of the government. Newsstands refused to sell those papers, and print presses refused to publish them, all under government pressure.

In the last days of the elections, several independent journalists were arrested and sent to prison - usually from five to 15 days. Three independent news editors were arrested without reason, and some Russian journalists were prohibited from covering the election.

There were many more cases, involving foreign and local journalists, disappearances or censorship, imprisonment or physical violence.

Perhaps even worse, in terms of ideological implications rather than press freedom, the CPJ reported that State news programs "were filled with pro-governmental and anti-Western propaganda".

Source: Charter 97