On September 29, Belarusian Information Minister Ihar Lutski ordered to suspend TUT.BY’s status of an online media outlet for the period of three months starting October, 1.
As reported earlier, on October 8, the Economic Court of Minsk is to consider the ministry’s claim on the termination of the portal’s publishing status.
The media outlet status provides a number of advantages; in particular, the ability to legally be present in areas of armed conflicts, at emergency fields, at mass events, etc and report from there. It should be recalled that TUT.BY was registered as a media outlet in January 2019; since its founding in 2000, the portal had been working without this status.
Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya has commented on the situation:
“Belarusians were deprived of access to the Internet, freedom of assembly, physical freedom, the right to an attorney and a fair trial, the right to go on strike and do their job, including being a journalist. The regime keeps persisting in its opinion that it is possible to cover up its crimes by stopping a printing press, blocking a website or depriving media outlets of accreditation. But the regime is wrong. Dear journalists, you are heroes. I admire your resilience and professionalism which are especially noticeable and valuable in the face of legal default.”
In the 2020 Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders, Belarus ranks 153 out of 180 countries. Now it is between the Sultanate of Brunei and Turkey and four positions below the Russian Federation. Is should be noted that the latest version of the Index was issued before the dramatic events of August, 2020. The list of incidents which Belarusian Association of Journalists regards as violations of journalists’ rights, committed by representatives of the authorities is here (in English)