Media report numbers of protesters declining by end of 2017

Peaceful Assembly

Interest in protests wanes in Belarus

According to a November 2017 analysis in Belarus Digest, the public's interest in protest had decreased by the end of the 2017, despite major protests having taken place in February and March 2017. For example, on 21st October 2017 the Angry Belarusians March 2.0 took place in Minsk with only 200 in attendance, while the first iteration of the March had gathered 3,000 in February 2017. Analyst Dzmitry Mitskevich claims that anti-government protests tend to gather few supporters and opposition political parties have been unable to consolidate their position in a way that garners widespread public attention. According to Belarus Digest, reasons for the decrease in protests and protesters could include partial stabilisation of the economy, the suspension of Decree No. 3 (an unemployment tax that sparked protests in 2017) and some recent steps to liberalise the economy. 

In connection with the Angry Belarusians March 2.0, an opposition leader was sentenced to ten days in jail for calling on supporters to join unsanctioned protests. The 71-year old opposition leader and former candidate in past presidential elections, Vladimir Neklyaev, was found guilty of encouraging supporters to take part in the March. 

Expression

According to the Index on Censorship's most recent report on Belarus released in December 2017, the authorities do not respect media freedom and freedom of expression in the country. Such related laws go primarily unheeded as the government exercises tight control over media content and public information. The report also stated that independent media are constrained by laws favouring state-controlled outlets. Independent journalists often face prosecution and fines for producing alternative media deemed illegal by the authorities. In addition, there are cases of independent journalists being denied press accreditation for state events. 

Ukrainian journalist detained in Belarus

The Kyiv Post reported that Pavlo Sharoyko, a special correspondent for the National Ukrainian Radio in Minsk, was detained in Belarus. Sharoyko was arrested on 25th October 2017 by Ukrainian state security on charges of "suspicion of espionage".