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18 July 2022, 16:01

FM comments on scandal around Latvian children's interview with Lukashenko

MINSK, 18 July (BelTA) – The freedom of speech is nipped in the bud in the West, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei told reporters, BelTA has learned.

“How can I comment on such – I don't even know how to call it – horrible, astonishing things that are happening to our Western partners or counter-partners? I believed that the situation with our Paralympians [Belarusian Paralympians were barred from taking part in the Paralympics] was already the bottom of the barrel. But it was not. And what is happening now with the children, aspiring journalists looking for some out-of-the-box solutions, defies all common sense,” the minister said.

According to Vladimir Makei, in reality the West is having a problem with the freedom of expression and opinion. “As it has turned out, there is no freedom of speech in the West, in our neighboring countries. Moreover, this freedom of speech is nipped in the bud: they did not allow the child journalists to post their interview and they stopped short of bringing criminal charges against them. Citizens of Latvia and Lithuania are not allowed to visit Belarus because they will tell objective things about the situation in Belarus. Therefore, we should forget about the freedom of speech in our Western partners, it is non-existent there,” the foreign minister said.

“Our assessment is unequivocal - these are horrible actions that affect children's mental health. I think if children pull through, this situation will harden them for the rest of their lives,” the diplomat added.

A reminder, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave a brief interview to journalists from the Riga Children's Academy of Radio and Television before the opening ceremony of the International Arts Festival Slavianski Bazaar in Vitebsk. After that, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the State Security Service of Latvia started an inquiry into the trip of the young journalists to Belarus. Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkevics went even further saying that the academy might be closed. “Due to the gross disregard for the travel safety recommendations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participation in the information warfare, the activities of such organizations are unacceptable and should be stopped,” he said.

In turn, the State Security Service of Latvia opened a treason probe against the children and their teachers. The institution is checking whether their activities might present a threat to national security.

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