“I Will Continue to Work, No Matter What”

Independent voices from Belarus:
Close-up with Katerina Bakhvalova, journalist at Belsat

Independent journalists in Belarus are constantly faced with the risk of receiving heavy fines, being violently attacked, and detained. One journalist who has experienced the difficult situation first-hand, having been refused accreditation and fined more than ten times, is Katerina Bakhvalova. Despite the ongoing pressure, she remains optimistic and hopes for a better future. This is Katerina’s personal experience of what it is like to work as a journalist in today’s Belarus: 

Threats and attacks are common

“One of the main problems that independent journalists are faced with is the lack of accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. To deny us accreditation very much complicates our work as it severely limits our access to information and ability work ‘in the field’. Personally, I have also been subjected to both threats and violence. During the protest on 25 March 2017 and 2018, police officers used physical force against me, and repeatedly detained me while I was trying to work. I was fined more than ten times during the year between the two protests.” 

New laws are urgently needed

“The conditions for compulsory accreditation of foreign journalists at the Foreign Ministry should be abolished and the control of the Belarusian segment of the Internet should be reduced. This is necessary if we are to be able to do our job properly. I believe that there should also be a dialogue with the government officials about how they should deal with the press. This kind of dialogue does not exist right now, and it is clear that it leads to problems. But, most importantly, it is necessary to establish new laws that will protect the rights of journalists in Belarus.” 

Never giving up

“The satisfaction of successfully completed work and the support of colleagues helps me to continue. I am also sure that during my professional career, the political situation will change for the better, and in the direction of greater freedom. The situation that we have today is very difficult, but I will continue to work no matter what. Quitting is not an option for me, since I love what I am doing.” 

Read the rest of the series “Independent Voices from Belarus” here:

Pavel Slepuhin, “I Have a Desire to Make the World Around Me a Better Place.”

Tatyana Korovenkova, “The Authoritarian Regime Will Never Allow the Media to Work Freely.”

Olga Chaychits, “The State Does Not Recognise My Rights as a Journalist.”

Pavlyuk Bykovski, “The Persecution of Journalits in Belarus Needs to Stop.”

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