Minsk: Ban on Belsat TV picnic on occasion of school year beginning

Everyone who will come to the picnic will have a gift.

The promised picnic on the occasion of the school year beginning will not take place for reasons beyond control of Belsat TV. It has been canceled by Horizont group, the owner of the venue.

According to Belsat TV Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy, Horizont used to allow Belsat to hold its events. This time, however, the company representative claims that they have not been informed about what kind of event will be held indoors; no document confirming the consent of the city authorities has been given to them, they say. It should be noted that in accordance with the Belarusian law, a picnic is not a mass event. The Horizont administration adds that Belsat works without accreditation and illegally uses his trademark.

The cancellation letter was sent very late that the organizers could not find a new place for the picnic, Romaszewska-Guzy believes.

“It is not about politics, it was to be an event for children. We were about to have quizzes, games and a concert. Banning such an event is just kind of paranoia,” she said.

The fact that Belsat was told about the allegedly illegal use of the trademark proves that the top officials have had their hand in the case, the director says. At the same time, in order not to do harm, the organizers were not even going to use the channel logo. “We realized that it was formally banned in Belarus,” Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy stressed.

In her opinion, the ban on a school picnic fits into the policy of media persecution by the Belarusian authorities, which has been stepped up since the beginning of the year (eg, the attack on journalists of TUT.by and news agency BelaPAN, as well as YouTube-bloggers). Someone must have taken a political decision to put an end to the freedom of independent media, she guessed.

“They started with imposing heavy fines on Belsat Tv contributors. This is a ‘tribute’ which we are forced to pay. We have been on air for 11 years, and we have never had so many fines. In 2018, they have totalled to nearly $30,000,”Agnieszka Romaszewska Guzy added.

Another problem that Belsat is facing is the belarusian authorities’ attempt to remove our main YouTube-channel that has 70,000 subscribers for alleged copyright infringement. The case is our journalists’ using short video fragments taken frome state-run Belarusian TV channels as soundbites (such practice is common all over the world).

In spite of persecution, Belsat will continue its work. “We will survive because our viewers need us. And they will find us. And we will find a way to reach them,” Romaszewska-Guzy promised.

Ihar Kuley / JB / ІА, belsat.eu

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