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#OsloFF

Zhanna Litvina - Lukashenko's Iron Grip

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Published on Jun 9, 2011

Zhanna Litvina speaks at Oslo Freedom Forum 2011
Lukashenko's Iron Grip

www.OsloFreedomForum.com
@OsloFF
#OsloFF

In her speech at the 2011 Oslo Freedom Forum, Belarusian radio journalist and chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Zhanna Litvina describes the atmosphere of repression that surrounds mass media in her country today as a result of dictator Alexander Lukashenko's efforts to control public information. Lukashenko uses the media as a tool to keep his totalitarian state intact, so freedom of expression, is of course, extremely limited in Belarus. In fact, the cumulative weekly printout of independent newspapers is equal to the weekly printout of a single periodical released by the administration. The government has also recognized the power of the Internet in disseminating information and has created blacklists of sites to which access is limited. Two of the most popular newspapers in the country have been added to these lists. After the most recent elections on December 19, 2010, Lukashenko tightened his grip even further; professional equipment was seized from media offices, journalists were interrogated, and police forces used violence to prevent filming from taking place. The Belarusian economy is currently unstable, so the government is likely trying to control public opinion by strengthening its hold over the media. Litvina's account contains an important warning about modern dictatorships—they are flexible and need not spill the blood of their people to maintain power. Instead, they can use equally powerful methods, such as the repression of the media, to "rule the minds of the people."

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