Svetlana Kalinkina

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Svetlana Kalinkina
Nationality Belarusian
Occupation reporter
Organization Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta (2002-04), Narodnaya Volya (2004-present)
Known for dissident reporting
Awards CPJ International Press Freedom Award (2004)

Svetlana Kalinkina is a Belarusian journalist known for her critical reporting of President Alexander Lukashenko.

Editorship of Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta[edit]

In 2003, she was editor of Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta (BDG), a popular business daily based in Minsk.[1] The paper began to publish reports and features critical of Lukashenko's government, including articles covering the trials of Vikto Kazeko, former director of the state food company, and Mikhail Leonov, former director of Minsk Tractor Works. One edition also included a poll asking readers whether it was appropriate for Lukashenko to use his presidential plane for personal journeys.[2]

Soon the paper was reportedly subject to a campaign of official harassment, including "politically motivated tax inspections, death threats and detentions".[3] Belarus's Information Ministry began to harass any printer that agreed to work with the paper, forcing BDG to print in Russia. The print edition of BDG had largely disappeared from Belarus by September 2004, leaving only the website.[1]

Kalinkina then took a leave of absence from the paper to work against a national referendum that would eliminate presidential term limits, allowing Lukashenko to serve indefinitely. The referendum passed.[1]

Editorship of Narodnaya Volya[edit]

Kalinkina then accepted an editorship at the independent newspaper Narodnaya Volya (English "The People's Will"),[1] Belarus's largest-circulation opposition daily.[4] In October 2005, pressure from the Information Ministry prevented Belarusian printers from working with the paper, forcing Kalinkina again to contract with a printer in Smolensk, Russia. Beginning on 1 January 2006, the Belarusian post office refused to distribute the paper, and an entire print run of 30,000 copies was confiscated by police on 9 January.[4] When citizens of Salihorsk began a petition on the paper's behalf, police made visits to the homes of the signatories to interrogate them.[4]

On 13 March 2006, a week before the presidential election that would usher in Lukashenko's third term, Narodnaya Volya, BDG, and Tovarishch had their print runs abruptly cancelled by their Smolensk supplier. Kalinkina told The New York Times that she believed Belarusian government pressure to be responsible, saying, "When, a week before the election, someone refuses to print three papers, it is clear there are political reasons."[5]

In April 2010, computers were seized from Kalinkina and fellow Narodnaya Volya reporter Marina Koktysh, as well as Charter 97 editor Natalya Radina and Novaya Gazeta journalist Irina Khalip as part of an investigation into a slander case filed by Ivan Korzh. The four were also brought to a police station for questioning.[6] In September, Kalinkina wrote an article investigating the recent suspicious death of Charter 97 editor-in-chief Aleh Byabenin, and received several death threats shortly after, prompting the human rights organization Norwegian Helsinki Committee to issue an alert on her behalf.[7]

On 29 April 2011, the Information Ministry again attempted to shut down Narodnaya Volya, filing a motion with the Supreme Economic Court of Belarus for the newspaper's closure.[8]

Recognition[edit]

In 2004, the Committee to Protect Journalists awarded Kalinkina its International Press Freedom Award,[1] "an annual recognition of courageous journalism".[9] The award citation praised her "critical reporting on various government abuses" in the face of "years of legal and bureaucratic harassment from Belarusian authorities".[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "2004 IPFA Svetlana Kalinkina". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2004. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "CPJ calls on government to allow newspaper to resume publication". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  3. ^ "Heroes of Press Freedom". The Washington Post. 23 November 2004. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c "Police seize opposition daily's print run; CPJ condemns repeated harassment of newspaper". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 11 January 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "With election nearing, Belarussians crack down". The New York Times. 13 March 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Police seize computers from four journalists". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Norwegian Helsinki Committee (19 September 2010). "NHC expresses concerns regarding threats against journalists in Belarus". Human Rights House. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Two newspapers threatened with closure". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 1 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "CPJ International Press Freedom Awards 2011". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2012. 
  10. ^ "CPJ to Present Annual Press Freedom Awards". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2004. Retrieved 1 February 2012.