MINSK, July 22, 2009 (GayBelarus) – Customs officials in Belarus have seized 25 copies of the magazine Pride, which is published by the international Pride group InterPride whose membership includes Project GayBelarus.
Siarhei Androsenka, the head of Project GayBelarus, was informed by customs officials in Minsk of the seizure at the end of last week. On Monday, he visited the customs office and learned that the copies of the magazine had been seized as GayBelarus had no legal status and that the copies were not all for the personal use of the addressee, Sergey Androsenko.
In a statement posted on their Website, Project GayBelarus pointed out that in the “Republic of Belarus, the rights of freedom of speech, distribution and reception of the printed information are often limited”.
Belarus, often dubbed “the last dictatorship in Europe,” maintains tight State control over the media, including the import of foreign material. Small concessions are sometimes made as Belarus seeks improved relations with Europe.
In February last year, President Alexandr Lukashenka opened a new faculty of ‘journalism’ at BGU (Belarusian Governmental University). In his opening speech, he said: “The weapon of the most destructive forces is in the hands of mass-media, so they should be supervised by the government”.
Articles 33 and 34 of the Belarusian Constitution forbids censorship.
Project GayBelarus has applied to the government for registration, but has been refused. The registration, the group says, is complicated and few applications by other groups have been successful.
Hat tip to UK Gay News.