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Independent Belarusian Weekly Facing Closure

Editor Anatol Sanatsenka
Editor Anatol Sanatsenka
BABRUISK -- The oldest independent newspaper in the eastern Belarusian city of Babruisk says it faces bankruptcy and closure because of government interference, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Anatol Sanatsenka, the editor of the weekly "Babruiski Kurier" (Babruisk Courier), told RFE/RL on September 2 that the difficult financial situation is the result of city authorities banning all advertising in his paper.

Sanatsenka said "the authorities have been doing everything to strangle our newspaper." He added that until recently, the major mail and periodical distributors Belarusian Post and BelSayuzDruk (Belarusian Press Union) refused to distribute his weekly.

"The local authorities grant awards and financial support to different newspapers and magazines in the city on a regular basis, and we are not among the periodicals [receiving such support]," Sanatsenka said.

He added that local officials tell him his newspaper "does not write about the right things."

Sanatsenka said "we have lost money but we have preserved our values and professionalism, as we are confident that to be a journalist does not mean being a slave."

"Babruiski Kurier" was first published in 1914 and is one of the oldest newspapers in Belarus. In 1920, the Soviets shut it down as it was not state-run or otherwise under official control.

It resumed publication in 1990 as a small periodical and since 1992 has been publishing as a full-fledged weekly newspaper.