Belarus Suspends Progovernment Trade Unions' Radio Station

Text of report in English by Belarusian news agency Belapan

Minsk, 9 October: The Belarusian Information Ministry on Monday [9 October] suspended for a month the operation of Novoye Radio, a radio station owned by the progovernment Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB).

The ministry would not comment on its decision. FTUB spokeswoman Iryna Kahanets also declined to comment to Belapan.

The ministry's move comes two days after a Novoye Radio presenter interrupted a live music programme to call on the station's staff to walk out in protest against the feared dismissal of the station's head.

The presenter appealed to [President] Alyaksandr Lukashenka "as the guarantor of the constitution" to put an end to the "arbitrary rule" of the FTUB's leadership, which he said intended to "disperse" the entire staff of the radio station.

After the presenter made the statement, the music programme resumed.

The FTUB leadership announced its decision to sack Novoye Radio CEO Viktar Hryshanaw after receiving an anonymous petition from the station's staff urging it to do so, a Novoye Radio correspondent told Belapan, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Two days earlier, a group of Novoye Radio employees met FTUB senior officials to talk them out of the move. The group threatened to leave their jobs. The officials reportedly replied that they were welcome to do that.

According to the source, most of the Novoye Radio staff oppose Hryshanaw's dismissal.

[At 1119 gmt today, the Charter-97 website published a letter by the Novoye Radio staff to the FTUB chairman, Leanid Kozik. The staff accused the FTUB spokeswoman, Iryna Kahanets, of interference in the radio station's policies and of exerting pressure on the employees. The staff members urged Kozik to look into the situation and to apply efforts to prevent "the death" of the radio station.]

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