There were empty couches in the morning and several recycling operations when journalists on the Belarusian state TV and radio channel BT began a strike nearly three weeks ago. More than 600 journalists on the channel signed the appeal against the state-controlled media and nearly a hundred resigned in protest.
President Lukashenko had said earlier that he had invited “specialists” from Russia to cover up the Belarusian journalists who left the channel – something RSF confirms now.
Since August 18, there have been a total of 15 people on site and covered editors, producers, and technicians. The employees come from the Russian state-owned channel RT.
Reporters Without Borders condemns the work
In a press release, Reporters Without Borders wrote that Russian specialists are involved in maintaining control of state media.
“After all, we are talking about an advertising machine where employees follow the directions they received from managers from the system, not any independent news coverage,” Eric Halkier, president of Reporters Without Borders in Sweden, wrote in an email.
Since the Russian crew took over the BT channel, they have used content from Russian RT, Reporters Without Borders has written. News coverage has also been largely replaced by opinions of Russian or Ukrainian experts.
Worst in Europe for freedom of the press
Gorestin newspaper reported that 73 sites were blocked in Belarus. This is to prevent residents from sharing information about the ongoing protests in the country, as people are now calling for the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Last week, about 50 journalists were arrested. Among them is Paul Hansen, Photographer at Dagens Nyheter. He was released later that evening with the help of the Swedish embassy.
To work as a foreign journalist in Belarus, you must have press accreditation – something the state has stopped distributing since June of this year. According to the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index, Belarus is the lowest-ranked country in Europe, alongside Russia and Turkey.