Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 21

Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko last week took another step in his campaign to stifle what remains of the independent media in Belarus. In a presidential directive devoted to "state information policies," Lukashenko ordered a series of measures to strengthen his office’s political oversight of the media and to force the re-registration of all periodicals. The directive creates three new bodies: a vaguely defined "external group of social-political commentators," a body where Lukashenko supporters will likely be empowered to mold public opinion; a "Bureau for the Informational Safeguarding of Instructional and Socio-Political Propaganda" that will function out of the Institute for Information and Prognoses, a body already controlled by Lukashenko; and a group of political commentators within the national state television and radio company.

Creation of these new structures follows last year’s re-establishment of Soviet-style political information offices at workplaces. However, the requirement that periodicals reregister by March 1 with the State Committee on the Press — and not, as in the past, with the Ministry of Culture and the Press — appears to pose a more immediate threat to the media. The measure is widely expected to be used to deny registration to the handful of independent Belarusian newspapers that remain. (13)

Growing Disintegration in Tajikistan.