Belsat outdoor advertisements torn off in Ukraine

The Ukrainian security forces are standing against Belsat TV.

Since April 1, 2012 Belsat TV, broadcasting via satellite from the territory of Poland, has launched an advertising campaign in Ukraine, not far from the Belarusian border. There were four advertising hoardings representing an alarm-clock and slogan “Wake up, Belarus!”. Since the campaign started, the local authorities have been pressurized by the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU). Its goal is to make the authorities take the advertisements away or at least change the campaign’s slogan.

On the night of the 12th/13th of May unidentified individuals tore off advertising Belsat outdoor ads in two Ukrainian towns, Sarny and Lyubeshov. SemoArt advertising agency holding the campaign reported to the police about the two facts of stealing.

In other towns problems also have blown up recently. In the town of Domanovo an ad hoarding was expected to be erected on May 1, 2012 but the Town Council is about to discuss the advertising issue only on May 17. Despite the permit was issued before local deputies have caved in to pressure and now they find it necessary to check the advertisement content. The director of the national park in neighbouring Lyubeshov, where a Belsat ad hoarding is found, has also been warned by the SSU.

In the town of Ovruch the SSU tried to call notice to the policy point of the advertising but arguments and explanations by Belsat representatives turned out to be more convincing. Chernigov city authorities took an unexpected decision to use the advertising space wired for Belsat for public service. The advertising medium is to be returned to SemoArt agency on June 1, 2012. By the moment a Belsat ad hoarding has been installed otherwhere.

According to Alexander Semochko, SemoArt agency director, local authorities are mainly pressurized telephonically but SSU representatives pushing on them do not admit to any actions attacking the campaign.

Belsat TV Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy finds it impossible for the channel either to take advertisements away or agree to self-censorship. “No matter what is written in the ads. The matter is that we are Belsat,” she says. “There is no escaping the impression that Ukrainian secret services’ pressure stems from the other side of the border,” Belsat campaign author Mateusz Adamski adds. According to him, the Belarusian KGB has a bearing upon its Ukrainian colleagues.

The eight-month advertising campaign under the slogan “Wake up, Belarus!” is addressed to Belarusians visiting Ukraine. It is funded through the budget of the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as part of the grant for supporting Belarusian independent media.

The campaign will last till December 31, 2012. The bottom line is that there is a visa-free regime between Belarus and Ukraine and it is easier to Belarusians to visit Ukraine than, for example, Poland or Lithuania.


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