Freedom of Speech in Belarus - Through the Stone Wall


Tue 26.9. at 18.30

Culture House Laikku, Music and Lecture Hall, Keskustori 4, Tampere

The event will end at around 20.30. Coffee will be served. The event is free of charge, but pre-registration is required. You can register for the event at using the code PI2609.

In the middle of the political, economic and freedom of speech maps of Europe there is a black hole. Belarus ranks as state number 157 in the annual global Press Freedom Index (Reporters Without Borders 2023).

Among the more than 1.500 political prisoners of Belarus, around 40 journalists are sitting in prisons. From the Editor-In-Chief of the largest news media, which was banned in 2021, to the creators of a popular car magazine, their lives have been canceled. The prison sentences are as long as 12 years. Communicating with the ones in prison is not possible.

We hear from the former political prisoner, lawyer, and human rights advocate Leanid Sudalenka. He was released from a Belarusian prison on 21st of July after serving a bogus three-year sentence.

Lawyer Sudalenka has for more than 20 years defended human rights and Belarusian citizens whose rights are grossly violated by the government. His work has been honored by the distinguished human rights award of the French Republic, “Liberté-Égalité-Fraternité” first in 2018 and again together with other imprisoned Belarusian human rights advocates in 2021.

Sudalenka lead the work of the human rights organization Viasna (Spring), founded by Ales Bialiatski, in the second biggest city of Belarus, Homel. Bialiatski received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2022 and in his home country a ten-year prison sentence. After being released from prison, Mr. Sudalenka fleed Belarus to Lithuania.

On a remote line, we also hear from a Belarusian news reporter about work in exile. The biggest Belarusian news service was raided and closed, Editor-In-Chief and Manager imprisoned since 2021.

Journalist Ingrid Svanfeldt talks about the faiths of journalists in Belarus, where freedom of speech means a choice between exile / prison or participating in the ways of the dictatorship. In the online game ‘Hero of Freedom of Speech’, published by the YLE, you can try your hand surviving as a news journalist in the Belarus dictatorship.

The discussion is moderated, guests interviewed by Lännen Media´s Editor-In-Chief Matti Posio.

The Tampere Freedom of Speech event is co-organized by Pan-European Institute (Turku University).

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Created 28.08.2023 | Updated 11.09.2023