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Belarus: U.S. Group Protests Treatment Of Russian Reporter

Washington, 4 July 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A private American group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, has sent a letter to Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka protesting what it says is harassment of Russian television journalist Pavel Sheremet.

The group said in the letter -- made available to RFE/RL -- that Sheremet, the Minsk bureau chief for Russia's public television station ORT, was stripped of special events accreditation and was threatened with the loss of his general accreditation.

The committee said the action was in retaliation for Sheremet's broadcast last Saturday in which he characterized yesterday's independence day celebration in Belarus as "President Lukashenka's idea." The committee said Sheremet was informed that he had insulted the president and the nation of Belarus.

The committee urged Lukashenka to cease his harassment of Sheremet. It said removal of credentials for such reasons violates international standards guaranteeing the right of the news media to freely gather and disseminate information, regardless of frontiers.