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Position of the Belarusian PEN Center on the situation with TUT.BY.


updated

On May 18, 2021, the Ministry of Information of the Republic of Belarus blocked TUT.BY – the largest independent information portal in the country. 

One of the most important sources of reliable and timely information about significant events and life in Belarus is destroyed.

From early morning until late at night, searches were carried out at the central and regional offices of TUT.BY throughout the country; equipment and documents were seized. “Conversations” were held with employees, who were forced to take obligations not to disclose information about the subject of conversations.

According to unofficial sources, at least 11 TUT.BY employees were detained. Among them: Chief Editor Maryna Zołatava [Marina Zolotova]; General Director Ludmila Čekina [Lyudmila Chekina]; Chief Accountant Anžela Asad [Angela Assad]; Deputy Director Iryna Rybalka [Irina Rybalko]; editor Volha Lojka [Olga Loiko]; journalist Alena Talkačova [Elena Tolkacheva]; chief engineer Ala Lapatka. [Alla Lapatko]; Deputy Chief Accountant Maryja Novik [Maria Novik]; lawyer Kaciaryna Tkačenka [Ekaterina Tkachenko]; Deputy General Director for Technical Affairs Alaksandar Dajnieka [Alexander Daineka]; manager Andrej Aŭdziejeŭ [Andrei Avdeev].

Yuliya Charniauskaya, widow of the founder of TUT.BY Juryj Zisier [Jurij Zisier], culturologist, playwright, member of the Belarusian PEN Center, was taken to hospital under guard; according to media reports, she suffered a hypertensive crisis. During the entire day, her relatives were not able to contact her, her phone stayed silent, her whereabouts were unknown.

Sviatlana Aleksijevič [Svetlana Alexievich], President of the Belarusian PEN Center:

First, the authorities were afraid of girls in white with flowers – they arrested them. Now is the time to arrest the word. It is clear that the government wants to destroy the entire freedom-loving part of society. So, we have no other choice but to unite. Maybe someone still has the illusion that one can survive alone, but this is not the case. We all need to resist peacefully together, otherwise, they will destroy us.”

We emphasize that the events unfolding around the information portal TUT.BY are just the latest in the authorities’ continuous and relentless attack against independent media in Belarus. And now we are experiencing the peak of this attack, which falls on the period of the socio-political crisis provoked by the 2020 presidential election campaign.

The normal activity of TUT.BY by now is significantly hampered by the actions of state authorities and administration. We express our sincere support in these difficult days to everyone who was “under attack”: to everyone who has made TUT.BY a unique and respected source of information for many years, one that generates discussions about complex social problems, strives for responsible and high-quality journalism, speaks openly, is  impartial as possible, without leaving complex topics aside, without hiding behind prohibitions “by default”. It makes it possible to be informed, to think about what is happening without lies and propaganda.

We remain your readers, friends, colleagues, fellow citizens!

Please accept our deep respect and sincere support!

We are further convinced that attempts at reprisals against independent media and civil society are detrimental to efforts to find a way out of the socio-political crisis and the development of independent Belarus.