The Authorities in Belarus have removed the accreditation of a number of journalists who’ve been reporting on the political protests that have been taking place over the last few weeks.
In total, some 19 foreign journalists are believed to have been affected including workers from Reuters, Radio Liberty, and the BBC.
Thousands of citizens have been protesting over the last few weeks, rejecting the “landslide victory” of President Alexander Lukashenko. Opponents and observers say it was rigged. Several people have been killed, hundreds more wounded, and many imprisoned and believed to have been tortured.
The action against journalists came ahead of more protests that took place this weekend. They had previously been given accreditation by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
Two Russian journalists were deported back to Russia on Saturday as well as having their credentials revoked.
Lukashenko had threatened to expel foreign journalists on 23 July, accusing them of inciting protests against him.
Western Embassies in Minsk released a strongly worded statement at the weekend condemning the use of violence and threats and calling for the release of all of those unlawfully detained.
Lukashenko, otherwise known as “Europe’s Last Dictator” has been in power for 26 years. He denounced the election-rigging accusations as a Western plot to bring him down.
Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, the incumbent OSCE Chair, has repeatedly offered to facilitate dialogue between stakeholders in the Belarus crisis. He stressed the need for mutual understanding and cooperation in order to reach an understanding.
“To the Belarus authorities: please, give this offer a chance. Seize this moment of opportunity for Belarus to move from confrontation and strife to dialogue and reconciliation. To all OSCE members, let us try to make this work, hard though we know this will be,” Rama concluded his address.
Belarus has so far ignored his request.
In February 2019, Albania faced its own political protests following the publication of leaked wiretaps featuring senior political officials, members of the Socialist Party and Rama himself. Dubbed the “electiongate” tapes, they appeared to show planning to manipulate elections in Albania.
Following the tapes being made public, thousands of Opposition protests took to the streets. Several journalists were injured and hospitalised and Exit journalist Alice Taylor had her residence permit revoked following her reporting to international media on the protests.