The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today vehemently criticized Belarus for cancelling the accreditation of at least 17 journalists representing major global media outlets.

The Belarusian government today withdrew the accreditation of journalists working for the Associated Press, AFP, German television network ARD, Deutsche Welle, Reuters, RFE/RL, Radio France International, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

“The decision by Belarus to expel some foreign correspondents, and strip numerous journalists working for foreign media of their accreditation is clearly aimed at preventing fair and accurate coverage of Sunday’s demonstrations and developments in the country”, IPI Executive Director Barbara Trionfi said. “This is just the latest move in the ongoing clampdown on the media in Belarus that has already seen the arrest and prosecution of scores of journalists over the past days.”

“IPI calls on the government of President Alexander Lukashenko to drop the charges against journalists covering the protests, restore the accreditation of foreign correspondents and allow the media to cover the ongoing developments without fear of retaliation”, Trionfi added.

Since the controversial August 9 presidential elections, which President Lukashenko claims to have won, authorities in the country have attempted to crush protests using brutal force. Journalists and media outlets have been targeted by the regime in a bid to silence criticism and factual reporting of the situation.

On August 27,  police detained around 50 different local and international journalists and media workers for document checks as they were preparing to cover anti-government protests in Minsk and Brest, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).