“Union State” Crumbling to Pieces 11:58, 10/07/2003, Elena Buzulukova, GazetaSNGru
Exertion of pressure on the independent media, despite numerous protests and warnings of western human rights watchdog organizations, keeps picking up speed. Now the government of Belarus ruled to close down the bureau of the Russian NTV television company in Minsk. As already reported by “GazetaSNGru”, the formal reason for the liquidation of the Minsk NTV bureau was the provocative coverage of writer Vasil Bykov’s funeral, televised in the NTV evening newscast.
The Belarusian leadership’s reaction to Pavel Selin’s report followed on June 28. NTV correspondent was summoned to the Interior Ministry of Belarus and ordered to in no time leave the country, facing a five-year travel ban. However, the Belarusian authorities weren’t satisfied enough with the deportation of NTV correspondent and so the Cabinet ruled to shut down the whole of NTV office.
Apart from the Russian NTV company, the Belarusian leadership also targeted the American research foundation IREX, which supported in the country the programs of scholarly cooperation, also rendering assistance to the independent mass media outlets.
Moscow, ignoring Selin’s banishment from Belarus, more energetically reacted to the shutdown of NTV office. The high-ranking official of the Russian Cabinet told “Interfax” yesterday that the Belarusian authorities are again trying to provoke the conflict. The Kremlin officials realize well that Alexander Lukashenko and his sub-controlled state apparatus are willingly seeking to confront Russia.