Media of Belarus

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The media of Belarus refers to mass media outlets based in the Republic of Belarus. Television, magazines, and newspapers are operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of Belarus guarantees freedom of speech, but this is voided in practice by repressive and restrictive laws. Arbitrary detention, arrests and harassment of journalists are the norm in Belarus. Anti-extremism legislation targets independent journalism, including materials deemed contrary to the honour of the President of Belarus.

Legislative framework[edit]

The legal sources on the media sphere in Belarus include the Constitution of Belarus, Закон Республики Беларусь «О средствах массовой информации» (the Law of Belarus about Media), international obligations and treaties, and by-law regulations.[1]

The Law of Belarus about the Media entered into force in February 2009. It requires the re-registration of mass media into a state register by February 2010. Some articles of the law are deemed as considerably restricting the citizens' constitutional rights concerning freedom of speech and freedom of the press.[1]

Despite constitutional protections, criticising the President or the Government is a criminal offense in Belarus. Libel is punished by prison sentences or harsh fines. No guarantees exist for public access to governmental records. Free trial is not guaranteed either. The politicised court system and obscure regulations are systematically used to harass independent media outlets in Belarus. As a non-member of the Council of Europe, Belarus is not bound to respect the European Convention on Human Rights. [2]

More than 20 journalists were questioned, warned or fined in 2014 for "illegal production and distribution of media products".[2]

Status and self-regulation of journalists[edit]

Belarusian journalists have adopted two ethical codes, both in 1995: «Кодекс профессиональной этики журналиста» (The Code of Professional Etiquette of the Journalist of the Belarus Union of Journalists) and «Кодекс журналистской этики» (The Code of Journalistic Ethics of the Belarus Association of the Journalists).[1]

Media outlets[edit]

Belarus hosts both state-owned and privately owned media. In 2009 there were in total 1,314 media outlets in the country, of which 414 state-owned and around 900 privately owned.[1]

Print media[edit]

The biggest number of print media in Belarus are in Russian language (572 titles vs. 71 in Belarusian language, in 2009). The total circulation of national newspapers was of 650,000, and of 880,000 copies for the state regional press. Eight newspapers were deprived of license between 1997 and 2009.[1]

Among the Belarusian-language newspapers, the main and state-controlled one is Zviazda (Звязда, 40,000 copies). Other newspapers include Novy Chas (Новы Час, 7,000 copies[3]), Nasha Slova (Наша Слова, 7,000 copies,[3] newspaper about culture and history, published by the Francishak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society), Naša Niva (Наша Ніва; 6,000 copies, the oldest Belarusian weekly newspaper founded in 1906 and revived in 1991, pro-opposition), and Holas Radzimy (Голас радзiмы, 2,000 copies[4]), government-controlled newspaper for the Belarusian diaspora. Regional dailies include the online Vitsebsk newspaper Narodnya Naviny Vitsebska (Народныя навіны Віцебска) as well as Pahonia (Пагоня), a pro-opposition newspaper formerly published in Hrodna, only published online since being closed down by the government in 2001.

Among the Russian-language newspapers, the largest national newspaper is Sovetskaya Belorussia (Советская Белоруссия; over 500,000 copies), official newspaper of the Administration of the President of Belarus. Other dailies include Respublika (Рэспубліка; 119,500 copies[5]), official newspaper of the Government of Belarus; Vo Slavu Rodiny (Во славу Родины; 32,300 copies[6]), official newspaper of the Belarusian Ministry of Defense; Narodnaya Gazeta (Народная Газета, 25,042 copies), official newspaper of the Parliament of Belarus; BelGazeta (БелГазета, 21,200 copies[7]), independent national newspaper on business and politics; Belorusy i rynok (Белорусы и Рынок, 12,000 copies[8]) [4], weekly independent business newspaper. Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta (БДГ; BDG), formerly the largest independent newspaper on politics and business in 1990s (with about 70,000 copies), was closed down by officials in 2006.

Bilingual Russian/Belorusian newspapers include Narodnaja Volia (Народная воля, 15,000 copies[9]), the largest national pro-opposition newspaper on politics; Hazeta Slonimskaya (Газета Слонімская; Газета Слонимская; 7,000 to 8,000 copies[10]), an independent local newspaper published in Slonim; Intex-Press (Интекс-пресс, 17,300 copies[11]) [5], an independent local newspaper published in Baranavichy; Zhodzinskiya Naviny (Жодзінскія Навіны; Zhodino News) [6] - published in Zhodzina; Vecherniy Brest (Вечерний Брест; Evening Brest) [7] - published in Brest


Publishing houses in Belarus include the biggest state publishing houses “Belarus”, Belarusian Petrus Brouka Encyclopedia, Publishing House “Belarusian Science”, Vysheysha shkola (specialised in academic books), Mastatskaya Litaratura, Narodnaya Asveta, the unitary company Belkartografia, Minsk color printing factory, the publishing house “Aversev” and the Belsoyuzpechat association companies.[12]

Four Quarters is a publishing house founded in 1992 in Minsk, Belarus. It publishes books on arts, history and geography.

Romm was an historical Jewish publishing house in Grodno, operative between 1789 and 1941, publisher of the Vilna Talmud.

Radio broadcasting[edit]

Main article: Radio in Belarus

As of February 2009 there were 158 radio stations in Belarus, of which 137 state-owned and 21 private ones. 23 radio stations broadcast on FM, including the historic channels «Беларусь» (Belarus), «Рокс» (Roks), «Радио Мир» (Radio the World), «Альфа радио» (Alpha radio), Авторадио (Autoradio), Би-Эй (B-A), which have been on air since the early XX century.

The state-owned broadcaster Belteleradio broadcasts the radios First Channel,[13] "Culture",[14] Radius FM,[15] Radio Stolitsa [16] and Radio Station "Belarus" [17] Local stations include Radio Brest,[18] Radio Vitebsk,[19] Gomel FM,[20] Radio Grodno,[21] and Radio Mogilev [22]

Other state radio stations include Alpha Radio (Publisher house "Soviet Belarus"),[23] Radio Minsk (Government of Minsk),[24] MV Radio (Government of Minsk region),[25] Radio Unistar (Belarus State University and MediaInvest Gmbh),[26] Novoe Radio (Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus),[27] Pilot FM (Belarusian Republican Youth Union),[28] Radio ONT (Ministry of Information Belarus 51%; Belarusbank 29%; «Factory of information technology" 20%)[29] and Radio MIR - Belarus (MIR State Broadcasting)[30]

Quasi-private radio stations include Radio Europa Plus Belarus, Radio Humor FM - Belarus (LLC Vashe Televidenie),[31] Dushevnoe radio,[32] Narodnoe radio, the "BA - International" joint venture with Radio BA - International[33] and Radio Melodii Veka,[34] and the "Russian Radio" Holding with Russian Radio Belarus[35] and Radio ROKS Belarus[36]

Regional stations include MFM (Hrodna - 105.0 FM), Baranovichi FM (Baranovichi - 100.0 FM), Homiel plus (Homiel - 101.3 FM), Radio 107,4 FM (Homiel - 107.4 FM), Retro FM (Vitebsk - 104.6 FM, Polatsk - 104.7 FM), Radio Skif (Vorsha - 99.9 FM), Hit-radio (Minsk - 100.4 FM), Svoyo radio (Pinsk - 106.1 FM), Radio Naftan (Polatsk - 98.1 FM), and Nelly - info (Mozyr - 102.7 FM)

Independent radio stations include Radio Svaboda,[37] European Radio for Belarus (FM and internet),[38] Radio Racyja (FM and internet)[39] and several web-radios including Radio Aplus [40] Netradio [41] and several channels of Radio ROKS.

Radio 101.2 was a Minsk-based independent radio, closed by the government in 1996 and trasferred to the Belarusian Republican Youth Union.

The European Radio for Belarus (Eŭrapéjskaje Rádyjo dla Biełarúsi) is an international radio station based in Warsaw that provides independent news, information, and entertainment to the citizens of Belarus since February 2006. ERB operates on FM, lower FM, Internet, and Satellite, to promote European democratic values and assist the development of a new generation of journalists. Members of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), as well as journalists at the former Radio 101.2, actively participated in the creation of the Radio.

Television broadcasting[edit]

Main article: Television in Belarus

Television remains the Belarusians' main soure of information. The main TV channels are under control of the state. In 2009 there were 71 TV channels broadcasting in Belarus, of which 30 state-owned and 41 private ones.[1] The main TV broadcasting companies and channels include:

The analog signal of TV channels from nearby Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and Latvia is received in Belarus. Moreover, foreign TV programmes from Russia, Poland, Ukraine and other Western European countries are broadcast by almost all cable TV operators.[1]

Three cable television operators offer access in Belarus' main cities to about 100 broadcast channels, also through IPTV.[1]

Satellite TV channels include Belarus TV, a 24/7 state non-commercial satellite TV channel in the Belarus and Russian languages registered by Belteleradio in February 2005, as well as «The first musical channel», launched in 2002 and soon the first Belarus interactive satellite TV channel, accessible to viewers in more than 80 countries.[1]


Main articles: Cinema of Belarus and Belarusfilm

The golden era of Belarusian cinema were the 1960s-1980s period. The state film studio Belarusfilm, in Minsk since 1939 and operative since 1946, is undergoing modernisation.[1]

In Soviet times, Belarusfilmstudio was dubbed Partizanfilm, due to the large output of films portraying the Soviet partisan's struggle against Nazi occupation. The studio was, however, also renowned for its children's films. The studio has to date made 131 animated films.[45] Most of the output has been in Russian rather than Belarusian.

Belarusfilm produces national films since 1997, with around 10 feature films and 4 animation films per year.[1] It is also a co-organizer of the Listapad film festival held in Minsk, Belarus in November.


Landline phones had 3.7 million subscribers, of which 0.8 million in the countryside. Mobile phones have 8.7 million subscribers. Three operators offer GSM services («МТС», «Velcom»,«Life:)») and one offers CDMA, («Diallog»).[1]


Main article: Internet in Belarus

In 2009 internet reached 31% of Minsk population, 12% in other major cities. 180 ISP provided access to internet to 3.1 million users (broadband only for 470,000). The monopoly over internet access is held by the State Enterprise Beltelekom [1]

Media Organisations[edit]

Media agencies[edit]

Belarus hosts nine news agencies, of which 1 state-owned and 8 private ones:[1]

  • «БелТА» Белорусское телеграфное агентство (BelTA, The Belarus Telegraph Agency) is the largest news agency of Belarus, with the status of official state news agency for nearly 90 years. It remains the most authoritative source of information on authorities' activities.
  • «Агентство Владимира Гревцова» (Vladimir Grevtsov's Agency);
  • «Минск-Новости» (Minsk-news);
  • «БелаПАН» (BelaPAN);
  • «Ньюс-Релиз» (The News-release);
  • «Союз-инфо» (The Union-info);
  • «ЭКОПРЕСС» (Ecopress);
  • «Интерфакс-Запад» (The Interfax-West): part of the international group Interfax Information Services, it works in Belarus since 1994, catering mostly to Belarusian national and local media. It also started the web portal and the specialised agricultural agency

Trade unions[edit]

Media professionals in Belarus can affiliate to two trade unions:[1]

  • The public organisation «Белорусский союз журналистов» (Belarus Union of Journalists, BUJ), established in 1958 as the professional and independent organisation of Belarusian mass media workers.
  • The public organisation "Беларуская асацыяцыя журналістаў" (Belarus Association of Journalists, BAJ), established in 1995 (registered in 1999) as an alternative to the existing journalist's trade union. It is a voluntary, nongovernmental, non-party association of citizens engaged in professional journalistic activity or promote its development. BAJ has existed since autumn of 1995 (in 1999 had the state re-registration). It was created as alternative to the existing journalist's trade union to tackle the new issues generated by new media.

The "Union of Publishers and Distributors of Press" (SIRP) was created in December 2006 as a non-commercial organisation of media publishers and distributors.[1]

Non-governmental associations active in the media sector include the Belarus Association of Nongovernmental TV and the Belarus Association of Sports Press.[1]

Regulatory authorities[edit]

The Ministry of Information of Belarus was established in 2001. The government established in February 2009 a Public Coordination Council in Sphere of the Mass Information, aimed at: co-ordination of interaction of state management, public associations and other organisations carrying out activities in the sphere of mass information; maintenance of correct application of the law on mass media and other legislation in sphere of mass information; consideration of the questions as issues from applications to the law on mass media.[1]

Censorship and media freedom[edit]

Main article: Censorship in Belarus

Arbitrary detention, arrests and harassment of journalists are the norm in Belarus. Anti-extremism legislation targets independent journalism, including materials deemed contrary to the honour of the President of Belarus. Independent reporting is deterred by the threat of closure of media outlets.[46]

In 2014 the media environment in Belarus remained extremely restrictive. More than 20 journalists were questioned, warned or fined in 2014 for "illegal production and distribution of media products". Many were targeted for contributing without accreditation to foreign-based media in Poland and Lithuania. Some foreign journalists were refused accreditation at the World Ice Hockey Championship.[2]

The Belarusian journalist Andrzej Poczobut has been repeatedly charged of defamation against the President since 2011. In September 2013 the State Prosecutor dropped all charged for lack of evidence and released him from a 3-years suspended sentence.[46]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Elena Kononova, Belarus, EJC Media Landscapes, circa 2010
  2. ^ a b c Freedom House, 2015 Belarus freedom of the press report
  3. ^ a b "Freemogilev Resources and Information". Freemogilev. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  4. ^ "Палата представителей Национального собрания Республики Беларусь:". Government. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  5. ^ [1] Archived February 12, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ [2] Archived November 28, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ [3] Archived June 17, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Наши партнеры: газета Из рук в руки, Автобизнес, Аиф, журнал Стройка, Цены и товары, Автогазета, Комсомольская правда в Белоруссии, Авто Из рук в руки, Строительная газета, Моя реклама". Indar. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Газета "Народная Воля" появится в киосках на следующей неделе Беларускія навіны (in Russian). Newsby. 19 December 2010. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "Слонимская газета: новости, происшествия, расписание, реклама, частные объявления города Слоним - Рекламодателям". GS. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  11. ^ "Newspaper Resources and Information.". Intex-Press. Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  12. ^ Belarusian Publishing Houses Participated in the Baltic Book Fair
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  42. ^ "TV Channels >> Television >> Belteleradiocompany". Belteleradiocompany. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  43. ^ "Тэлеканалы >> Тэлебачанне >> Белтэлерадыекампанiя" (in Belarusian). Belteleradiocompany. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  44. ^ "NTV-Belarus >> Television >> Belteleradiocompany". Belteleradiocompany. Retrieved 11 March 2014. 
  45. ^ Chronological list of Belarusfilm animated films at
  46. ^ a b Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Background report on The Protection of media freedom in Europe, prepared by Mr William Horsley, special representative for media freedom of the Association of European Journalists, AS/Cult (2014) 25, 18 June 2014, p. 12