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2 Oct 2020

New rules for foreign mass media accreditation in Belarus, previous accreditations invalidated

New rules for foreign mass media accreditation in Belarus, previous accreditations invalidated

MINSK, 2 October (BelTA) – The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs will use new rules to re-accredit the foreign mass media that work in the country, BelTA learned from the ministry’s website.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the ministry has come up with a new procedure for accrediting reporters of foreign mass media that work in Belarus. The relevant resolution of the Council of Ministers was passed on 2 October. The new rules will soon be published on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working to update the foreign mass media accreditation procedure for a long time because the previous procedure was adopted in 2008 and is no longer on par with the level of development of the mass media industry and new lawmaking trends. The old procedure contains a number of outdated provisions, norms that have not been used in practice, and discriminatory provisions. “We’ve carefully studied the experience of neighboring countries (Poland, Latvia, and other ones) and the countries that have traditionally positioned themselves as mainstays of free speech (France, for instance). We’ve taken into account recommendations of the OSCE and the Venice Commission. We’ve also taken into account individual critical remarks, including about the inability of the ministry’s accreditation commission to operate due to the epidemic situation,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website reads.

The commission’s composition has been updated. New methods will be used to minimize the impact of force-majeure circumstances on the commission’s work in the future. The new accreditation procedure has implemented a number of provisions to make it easier for reporters to obtain accreditation. Temporary accreditation can be obtained by digital means. Reporters can print out the temporary accreditation card on their own. The time the commission needs to consider applications has been reduced from 20 days to 5 days for temporary accreditations and from 2 months to 30 days for permanent accreditation. Permanent accreditation can be extended up to three years (up from one year previously). The new procedure also takes into account freelance reporters, who work for a foreign mass medium.

In line with the national information security concept the country’s information sovereignty is the overriding priority. “In this situation we are forced to use our sovereign right and implement the necessary protective measures, including in the form of new provisions,” the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated.

Due to the enforcement of the new accreditation procedure the previously issued accreditations are officially invalidated as of 2 October 2020. The accreditation commission will start working on Monday, 5 October. “We also intend to start accepting online applications on Monday morning,” the source said.

All the previously submitted accreditation applications will be processed. There is no need to resubmit them, the ministry noted.

In line with the new accreditation procedure citizens of the countries where the foreign mass medium is registered will be prioritized for accreditation.

“We are convinced that the new procedure will allow the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, foreign mass media, and their reporters to jointly build a new, more effective and transparent model of interaction for the sake of spreading objective and diversified information about Belarus abroad,” the source added.

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