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Belarus: Foreign Journalists Picket Foreign Ministry

Minsk, 3 April 1997 (RFE/RL) - Dozens of foreign journalists picketed the Belarus' Foreign Ministry in the capital Minsk today calling for the government to honor press freedom.

Itar-Tass says the demonstration was called after reports that police had beaten and detained journalists covering an unsanctioned anti-government rally yesterday in Minsk. More than 100 protesters were beaten by club-wielding police in what was called the worst violence in the past six months.

Belarus Foreign Minister Ivan Antonovich today advised correspondents not to attend unsanctioned rallies. Otherwise, he said, Belarus authorities could not guarantee their safety.

Antonovich also said Minsk was drafting a new law on accrediting journalists in the former Soviet republic. He said the new rules could outlaw citizens of Belarus from working as correspondents for foreign news agencies. He said the new regulations would probably maintain the country's right to strip journalists of their accreditation.

Minsk authrorities stripped a Russian journalist working for NTV of his accreditation two weeks ago for alleged biased reporting.