24-09-2007 17.00 UTC 6225 KHz
Broadcasts from Poland try to break Belarus news monopoly
By Judy Dempsey
Published: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2006
BERLIN: A radio station set up by Poland's new conservative government began broadcasting news into neighboring Belarus this week in what Warsaw describes as a strategy to help the country move toward democracy.
Radio Racja, or Radio Reason, opened its offices in Bialystok in northeastern Poland on Wednesday with the explicit aim of weakening the state monopoly over information in Belarus just four weeks before presidential elections there.
Opposition activists, diplomats and human rights organizationssay President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus, who has been in power since 1994 and is seeking a third consecutive term, has done his utmost to hamper the opposition's campaign for the March 19 vote, notably restricting media access.
"We hope Radio Racja will make a difference, however small," said Janusz Onyszkiewicz, a former Polish defense minister and now vice president of the European Parliament. "The aim is to try and break the state control over news and information," added Onyszkiewicz, a former activist in the Solidarity movement.
The radio was originally set up in 1999 to broadcast to the Belarussian minority in Poland.