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'Stop Harassment, Detentions Of Journalists,' EU Lawmakers Tell Belarus

A blocked website in Belarus

BRUSSELS – The European Parliament has overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the repeated detention and state harassment of journalists and independent news outlets in Belarus.

The text, backed on October 4 by the five largest political groups in the chamber, called on Belarus to “end all judicial harassment, intimidation, and threats” against journalists and independent media and to allow all news portals to operate freely.

It also called on the Belarusian authorities to “immediately and unconditionally lift the blockade imposed on Internet access to the news website Charter'97.”

It urged the European Commission to “support all independent sources of information for Belarusian society, including media broadcasting in the Belarusian language and from abroad like Charter'97 and Belsat TV.”

The resolution further stated that EU financial assistance to Belarus “must be linked to clear and tangible steps toward democratization and openness, including comprehensive election reform and full respect to media freedom.”

Between 2014 and 2017, the EU provided an assistance package to Belarus worth 91.5 million euros ($105,000).

The resolution comes amid improved EU-Belarus relations in recent years.

In February 2016, the bloc lifted most of the sanctions against Minsk that had been in place since the political crackdown on the opposition after the presidential election in December 2010.

Rights groups have charged that the government is trying to muzzle independent media that are critical of strongman President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and his government.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has denied that allegation.

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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.