The EBU is alarmed by continuing deterioration of press freedom in Belarus and by the detainment yesterday in Minsk of Roman Protasevich, ex-editor of the Nexta group, following the forced diversion of a Ryanair aircraft on a scheduled flight from Athens to Vilnius.
Yesterday’s incident comes six days after the Belarusian authorities blocked access to TUT.BY one of the country’s most popular independent news websites and detained more of its employees following earlier raids of their offices in Belarus.
The EBU demands the immediate release of Roman Protasevich and other journalists detained in Belarus. We also condemn unacceptable acts of torture and inhuman mistreatment to which journalists say they have been subjected.
Noel Curran, Director General of the EBU, said: “Since the elections of August 2020, the EBU has denounced a progressive deterioration of press freedom in Belarus which has seen alarming numbers of domestic and international media put behind bars. Yesterday’s incident signals a further escalation that cuts at the heart of freedom and democracy. As the foremost alliance of Public Service Media we stand by journalists, their independence and their right to report freely.”
Belarus fell five places in the 2021 World Press Freedom index compiled by RSF and now lies in 158th position of 180 countries.