IPA, FEP, EIBF report that publishers in Belarus are detained

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The reported arrests in Minsk of two Belarusian publishing professionals have cast a chill over the global book trade.

The Belarusian opposition flag, a photo from March 11. Image – Getty iStockphoto: Michele Ursi

By Porter Anderson, Editor | @Porter_Anderson

Einarsson: ‘Incidents like this lead to self-censorship’

Jhe International Association of Publishers (IPA) this morning (May 25, Abu Dhabi time) is down report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Belarus stating that “the Minsk police arrested the director of a publishing house, Andrey Yanushkevich, and his associate, Nasta Karnatskaya, after opening a general bookstore in the Belarusian capital”.

The detention reportedly took place on May 16 and the Radio Free Europe report is dated May 17.

Like Publication prospects readers will recall, Independent Publishers of Belarus – an unnamed news group for security under the Lukashenko dictatorship – was one of five shortlisted candidates for the 2021 Voltaire Prize, the internationally watched accolade for bravery in the face of to censorship, oppression and violence against the freedom to publish. It is possible that the inmates who are the subject of these new reports were among the publishing staff whose work contributed to this shortlisting.

In the case of today’s expression of alarm, the International Association of Publishers in Geneva is joined by the Federation of European Publishers and European and International Federation of Booksellers, both based in Brussels.

As Belarusian Publishers Anonymous were shortlisted, the association’s Kristenn Einarsson – chair of the IPA’s Freedom to Publish Committee and head of the upcoming WEXFO event in Lillehammer, May 30-31 – said publishers trying to operate in Lukashenko’s Belarus faced “harassment in the form of police visits; seizures of computers and books; blocking of books from export; investigations by financial authorities; application of high fines for irregularities suspected financial transactions; and the blocking of bank accounts.

“These tend to happen,” Einarsson noted, “particularly around publishing books, criticizing the government.”

“We oppose all forms of censorship”

Kristen Einarsson

At the time of the announcement of the shortlist, the Council of European Writerswho was particularly vigilant under the leadership of Nina George during the Belarusian crisis, pointed to the “forced dissolution” on October 1 of the Union of Belarusian Writers (Саюз беларускіх пісьменнікаў) as one of the direct actions of the Lukashenko regime against the country’s literary and editorial community.

Radio Free Europe writes that an inciting incident appears to have been the visit of two “propaganda pro-government journalists” who “began to berate bookstore staff for selling books in Belarusian that they deemed inappropriate”. The police then reportedly arrived, searched the bookstore and arrested Andrey Yanushkevich and Nasta Karnatskaya.

Einarsson for today’s IPA messaging, reflects on last year’s recognition of Belarusian publishers at risk, saying: “We have recognized independent Belarusian publishers in the shortlist of the Prix Voltaire IPA 2021.

Jean-Luc Treutenaere

“We know that ppublication and the library is so difficult in belarus now and incidents like this will no doubt lead to self-censorship on the part of the authors, editors and booksellers.

“We continue to offer our Support to all publishers in Belarus who want to publish freely. »

Jean-Luc, co-president of the EIBF Treutenaer adds: “We are concerned about reports of book bans, bookshop raids and general censorship from Belarus.

“We call [for] full respect for the freedom to publish and sell books, and we are firmly on the side of Belarusians, European, and the international publishing community against all forms of print censorship.

Peter Kraus vom Cleff

And Peter Kraus againstom VSleftPresident of the Federation of European Publishers, says: “George Orwell’s book, 1984, denounces totalitarianism and mass surveillance.

“These are problems that, together with the role of truth and facts in politics and how they are manipulated calls for greater consideration by politicians and society as a whole.

“No book, perhaps especially this one, should never be banned. Freedom to publish and freedom to sell books are at the heart of a democratic society.


More information on Publishing Perspectives on the International Association of Publishers is here, and on its Prix Voltaire is here. To find out more about Belarus and its crisis, to find out more about censorship, to find out more about the Federation of European Publishers, to find out more about the European and International Federation of Booksellers, to find out more about freedom to publish and freedom of expression. , more about Kristenn Einarsson’s work is here, and more about WEXFO is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the International Association of Publishers’s global media partner.

To learn more about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and its impact on international book publishing, click here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is a non-resident member of Trends Research & Advisory, and was named International Business Journalist of the Year at the London Book Fair‘s International Excellence Awards. He is editor of Publishing Perspectives. He was previously associate editor of The FutureBook at The Bookseller in London. Anderson was a senior producer and anchor for CNN.com, CNN International and CNN USA for more than a decade. As an art critic (National Critics Institute), he has collaborated with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which is now owned and operated by Jane Friedman.

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