Belarus must lift travel ban against journalists

New York, March 15, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists is outraged by the illegal foreign travel ban on at least four independent journalists in Belarus, and calls on the government of Aleksandr Lukashenko to immediately restore their freedom of movement.

“We are astonished by this blatant act of illegal restriction on the freedom of movement of Zhanna Litvina, Mikhail Yanchuk, Andrei Dynko, and Valentin Stefanovich, and call on Belarusian authorities to lift the travel ban at once,” said CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova. “Journalists are not criminals and to treat them as such is a crime. The government must stop punishing individuals for their candid reporting about developments in Belarus.”

Today, Zhanna Litvina, head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), the country’s leading press freedom group, and Mikhail Yanchuk, Minsk correspondent for the beleaguered Poland-based satellite channel Belsat, were denied exit visas without explanation at the Minsk airport as they tried to make their way to Poland. In similar incidents, on Wednesday, Andrei Dynko, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Nasha Niva, was prevented from travel, and on Sunday, BAJ representative, Valentin Stefanovich was stopped at the border on his way to Lithuania.