Security forces smash independent media infrastructure as large-scale repression continues in Minsk and the regions
The regime continues its campaign to destroy remaining independent media and silence the voices of activists throughout Belarus. The cost of participation in public and political life for reformers, journalists and civic leaders continues to rise.
The Belarusian leadership maintains its repressive agenda towards Belarusian society. Security forces continue to destroy the infrastructure of independent media to reduce audience exposure to information from independent sources. However, propagandists and state media cannot seize complete control of the news agenda and regain their leading role in shaping public opinion.
On July 8th, security forces raided national and regional independent media editorial offices, conducting searches and detaining journalists and editors. Targeted organisations include Intex-press (Baranavičy), Hancavicki čas (Hancavičy), Brest Courier (Brest), Media Polesie (Pinsk), orsha.eu (Vorša), Nasha Niva and Onliner (Minsk), in Hlybokaje, Viciebsk, Babrujsk. The authorities have also blocked Nasha Niva and Zerkalo.io, the latter being an expatriate online project run by members of the TUT.BY team.
The authorities have also allowed Raman Pratasevich, the ex-editor-in-chief of the Telegram channel “Nexta”, currently under house arrest in Minsk, to open a Twitter account, apparently to attract and co-opt part of the protest audience.
Security forces are trying to return society to a state of political passivity and prevent the possible emergence of popular leaders from within the business community.
One of the most highly rated rivals of the current head of state, ex-banker Viktar Babaryka, has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.
The security forces aim to eradicate the protest movement in the regions, conducting raids and detentions in Homel, Brest, Babrujsk, Svietlahorsk, Hłybokaje, Dokšycy, Navapolack, and neighbourhoods of Minsk associated with protest activity.
Civil society organisations are also in the crosshairs, with many officially registered organisations being investigated by the Ministry of Justice and some liquidated, including Brest based “For Your City” and “Dziedzič”.
The government is preparing public opinion for an economic downturn and falling GDP due to international sanctions. In June, gold and foreign exchange reserves fell by more than 300 million USD. On the other hand, the authorities plan to simplify administrative procedures to give the impression of considering the concerns of private business.
The authorities’ actions to eliminate independent media within Belarus are strengthening the position of editorial offices broadcasting from abroad, paradoxically leading to even more critical coverage of the activities of the Belarusian leadership.
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