Belarusian media, since the days when Belarus gained its independence, comprise state-owned and private newspapers and magazines, and state-owned radio and television.
Internet sites, both state-controlled and independent, play an increasing role.
During the time of perestroika and after the collapse of the Soviet Union media expression flourished, with a wide variety of newspapers that presented a wide variety of points of view.
After 10 years of Lukashenko's presidency, most of the Belarusian media outlets (newspapers, radio, television) are owned by the state. The state-controlled media present the government's point of view and interpretation of events, much as had been done during the times of the Soviet Union. There are a number of privately owned media outlets, mostly small independent newspapers. They operate under a permanent threat to be closed down for violating various government regulations, such as mis-stating their corporate name on their publication or operating out of an office not registered with the government (in fact, this is true for all private enterprise in Belarus).
Free expression limited
Many western human rights groups state that the civil rights of free expression are severely limited in Belarus, though there are some individuals and groups that refuse to be controlled and some of the journalists have disappeared or faced ideological correction in Belarusian labor camps. What makes the situation complex, however, is that the relatively free Russian media is allowed to transmit television programming, sell newspapers and conduct journalistic activities in Belarus (though some Russian journalists have been expelled by the Belarusian government) thus giving some members of the public, typically those in large cities with many Russian residents, access to an alternative point of view in the Russian language (nearly all Belarusians understand and most of them speak Russian).
In 2004, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Belarus 144th out of 167 countries. The last place was occupied by North Korea.
Examples of propaganda
Perhaps the most obvious examples of Belarusian propaganda are imaginary terrorist stories, whereby alleged terrorists are said to be plotting to overthrow President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The state controlled media in Belarus deny that there is any bias or censoring of freedom of expression in Belarus. They point to the Belarusian people's overwhelming re-election of Lukashenko (also known as Luka) on September 9, 2001 claiming that this shows that the anti-democracy sentiment in Belarus is genuine and that the Belarusian people and media do have the right to free speech - they simply do not want to criticize their government because they believe it to be running the country well. Once outside Belarus and free of fear of reprisal, most Belarusians are vocal in their discontent with the Soviet-style system that prevents free enterprise and democracy from taking root in Belarus as it has in neighboring post-Soviet countries. They also point to the fact that the standard of living of Belarus is comparatively low.
- See also : Politics of Belarus
Non-state controlled media and criticism:
Statement from the Belarusian Embassy to the U.S. on Mass Media in Belarus: