Belarus provides troubling examples of a backslide on media freedom issues in Europe.
The International Press Institute (IPI) said it as it unveiled a "Europe Watch List" to highlight and combat that trend.
The countries represent "Focus Countries", which will highlight stories from across the continent that have an impact on media freedom. The List will combine reports from IPI, which advocates for press freedom worldwide, and its affiliate, the South and East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), which addresses press freedom issues in countries located in South East Europe.
In recent years, the attention of press freedom monitors has been directed at parts of the world where censorship runs rampant and where journalists are regularly jailed, attacked and killed. However, Europe – where many countries have long been viewed as bastions of free expression – has seen a backslide on media freedom issues.
In Belarus, recent presidential and parliamentary elections that Western observers claimed were held in an atmosphere of intimidation of journalists. Numerous reporters were attacked for covering protests following the December 2010 re-election of Alexander Lukashenko to a fourth term and journalists regularly face harassment and prosecution for airing criticism of the government, particularly with respect to Lukashenko and on subjects like the 2011 explosion in a Minsk subway station.
The european countries of Hungary, Turkey and Ukraine are also in the list.