1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Belarus cracks down on foreign press

August 29, 2020

Numerous foreign media journalists are no longer allowed to report in Belarus after their accreditation was abruptly withdrawn. The crackdown comes ahead of the latest mass protest against President Alexander Lukashenko.

Riot police lined up behind barbed wire
Image: imago images/ITAR-TASS/V. Sharifulin

Authorities in Belarus stripped several foreign media journalists of their press accreditation on Saturday, with some reportedly facing expulsion from the country. 

Journalists working for news agencies Agence France Presse and the Associated Press as well as British broadcaster BBC, German public broadcaster ARD and US broadcaster Radio Liberty had their accreditation stripped. 

German broadcaster ARD said that one of their camera teams was arrested overnight despite having the appropriate accreditation. They were released in the morning after authorities withdrew their accreditation and ordered two Russian members of the team to leave the country. Their Belarusian producer has been threatened with legal action. 

It was not immediately clear how many journalists have been affected by the move, although the Belarusian Association of Journalists spoke of a massive wave of accreditation withdrawals for journalists working for foreign TV, radio, newspapers and news agencies.  

In recent days, over a dozen reporters covering ongoing protests in Minsk were detained by police for document checks, with some officers deleting videos and photos. 

Crackdown ahead of large protest 

The move comes ahead of a large-scale opposition protest in Minsk that is slated to take place on Sunday. 

Media representatives told news agency DPA that the crackdown on foreign press is likely a bid to prevent reporting on nationwide protests over this month's disputed presidential election.  

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, claimed a landslide victory with 80% of the vote. 

The leader of the opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claimed she beat Lukashenko in the election and called for protests. She has since fled to neighboring Lithuania. 

The protests have been met with a violent police crackdown that has been condemned by Western leaders and rights groups. At least three people have been killed and hundreds wounded in the violence. Some 7,000 others have been arrested. 

The European Union does not recognize Lukashenko's victory, and is preparing sanctions against high-level Belarusian officials.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has said Moscow is ready to assist the Belarusian government if the security situation gets "out of control." 

rs/dj (AFP, dpa)