Mirror Response: Belarus to Tighten the Law on the Media

16 May 2023

On April 18, the House of Representatives of the Belarus Republic adopted amendments to the law on mass media in the first reading. We are talking about restricting the activities of the media of other countries, which, with the help of sanctions, prevent the distribution of materials from some Belarusian media. The Ministry of Information will now be able to make decisions on foreign media, whose journalists are accredited in Belarus, without a trial.

Such amendments, as Lilia Ananich, deputy chairman of the Standing Commission on Human Rights, National Relations and the Mass Media, noted, will make it possible to respond to the manifestation of “destructive challenges and threats.”

“The bill is aimed at ensuring the constitutional right of citizens to receive complete and reliable information, protecting state and public interests, national security in the field of mass media,” the press service of the parliament reports.

So, in Belarus, it is now possible to expand the list of grounds for canceling a certificate of media outlet’s state registration and restricting access to an Internet resource, an online publication, and a news aggregator.

At the same time, if other countries lift sanctions against the Belarusian media, Belarus is ready to take similar measures in response. Ananich noted that such norms already exist in Russia:

“According to the notification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is proposed that the Ministry of Information will make decisions symmetrical to similar actions of unfriendly countries.  Exactly the same procedure will apply to the cancellation of such prohibitive measures. These are not new norms. They also operate in the Russian information space. We must fully ensure national interests,” Lilia Ananich stressed.

The deputy also noted that the law will fix the rules on Internet aggregators: these resources will not be able to distribute information prohibited in Belarus, they will not be able to broadcast foreign television without the permission of the Ministry of Information. The same will apply to the distribution of videos from TV channels that do not have state registration in Belarus.

The innovations proposed by the deputies are related to ensuring the protection of the information field during the period of electoral campaigns.

Photo source: Aglaya Kovaleva