28 May 2015, Thursday, 5:00

Press Freedom Index: “Belarus moved back towards appalling position”

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Reporters Without Borders released the World Press Freedom Index with Belarus ranked 157th.

Belarus follows Ethiopia, Burma, Gambia and Azerbaijan, Radio Svaboda reports.  

The survey notes that after the “Arab springs” and other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index, the 2013 World Press Freedom Index marks a return to a more usual configuration. The ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term.

The same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year (Finland, the Netherlands and Norway). The last three positions also remain unchanged (Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea).

The deadliest country for journalists in 2012 was Syria (176th), where journalists and netizens are the victims of an information war waged by both the Assad regime and by opposition factions that are increasingly intolerant of dissent. Oman (141st) fell sharply because of a wave of arrests of netizens.

The survey views Belarus together with Azerbaijan. Both countries improved their ratings (Azerbaijan rose from the 162nd to the 156th position, Belarus from the 168th to the 157th position), but authors of the report explain the countries fell last year after using violence to suppress opposition demonstrations and this year they just moved back towards their appalling former positions.

Poland was ranked 22nd, Lithuania 33rd, Latvia 39th, Ukraine 126th and Russia 146th in the Press Freedom Index.

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