Lukashenka promises to ‘sort out’ freedom of speech in Belarus

During Thursday’s meeting with representatives of state-owned mass media, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has made a comment on freedom of speech in Belarus and abroad.

Some people say what they want, especially on the Internet, but the existence of freedom of speech does not provide for a total absence of authority, the Belarusian leader believes. He took as an example criticism and even insults that some media personalities may face after publishing their opinions in social networks.

“You have learned what freedom of speech is: if you say some wrong things, as they believe, you will be called names,” news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka.

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According to him, each state media worker has already got their bit of negative feedback in the wake of ‘speaking up for the state, not for Lukashenka’.

“Freedom of speech is limited by law in any state. This is why we are going to sort things out here,” he stressed.

The head of state promised that the number of state-owned media will not be cut in Belarus. The work of the Information Ministry will be aimed at supporting them, Lukashenka added.

In the run-up of the presidential election scheduled for August, 9, the regime led by the incumbent president has restricted democratic rights in the country; it has jailed a wannabe presidential candidate, opposition activists and even bloggers. Since mid May, the number of detentions of independent journalists and peaceful protesters has been growing. As of 3 July, 125 people have been punished with to a total of 1,800 days in jail: initiating cases under articles of the Code of Administrative Offenses became a tool of political persecution. 246 persons got fines amounting to 190,000 Belarusian rubles; at least 680 cases of arbitrary detentions had been reported in the period of May, 6 – July, 1.

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