On February 6, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko replaced the management of leading government-run mass media, namely new managers have been appointed at “Sovetskaya Belorussia” (BS), an official newspaper of the president’s administration, and the state TV and radio company Belteleradio. Pavel Yakubovich and Gennady Davydko of SB and Belteleradiocompany, respectively, were replaced by Dmitry Zhuk and Ivan Eismont (spouse of Lukashenko’s spokesperson Natalia Eismont). Besides, head of STV TV channel Yuri Koziyatko was replaced by Igor Lutsky.
“Frankly speaking, after so many staff appointments - there were thousands of them made in this office, - I feel not so comfortable today. I have to make replacements often, as many fail to implement their duties and responsibilities. Sometimes, they are appointed to other positions. The managers who you are to replace are very respectful people – Davydko, Yakubovich and Koziyatko, and many others. These are dignified people and we should keep in touch with them,” the president’s press office quotes Lukashenko as saying.
“We need changes. If you ask me what kind of changes, I will come right out and say – watch foreign television,” Lukashenko said addressing Eismont and Lutsky during a meeting broadcasted by ONT TV. “Watch foreign news, Euronews – the channel has become smoother, without any radical ideas. CNN, BBC are not so smooth. Take the best news bit by bit. Yet, the best orientation is the Russian television. It works brilliantly, but we should in no way go down to the stances and workstyle of the Russian TV channels.”
According to some sources familiar with the situation, Yakubovich and Davydko were among the initiators of criminal proceedings against pro-Russian political writers Sergey Shiptenko, Yuri Pavlovets and Dmitry Alimkin, who were charged with “kindling national hatred” and had been kept in pretrial detention facilities for 14 months. If this information is true, actually a big number of persons somehow dealing with fabricated cases against the political writers have been dismissed – starting from authors of accusatory expert opinions Alla Kirdun and Galina Gatalskaya up to Information Minister Lilia Ananich (strange as it may seem, the minister was dismissed on the next day after Russian media watchdog Roskomnadzor published its resolution that found no signs of ‘extremism’ in the articles of Shiptenko, Pavlovets and Alimkin).
Recall that while in custody, Yuri Pavlovets filed a lawsuit against “Sovetskaya Belorussia” (SB), after SB correspondent Yevgeny Kononovich compared him with Goebbels in his article. Pavlovets lost the trial, as the judge ruled that Kononovich just expressed his “private opinion.”
Later, Pavlovets was found guilty in kindling inter-ethnic hatred on the basis of the expert opinion, which even ideological rivals of the defendants, journalists of pro-Western mass media, found evidently biased and of poor quality.