Belarus Press Photo shrugs off state harassment

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Belarus Press Photo shrugs off state harassment

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Despite government harassment and allegations of ‘extremism’, this year’s Belarus Press Photo award has successfully taken place.

More than 2,500 photos were in competition for the award and 40 made it to the shortlist.

All pictures had to have been published in the media in 2012.

Competition organiser Sergei Mikhalenko said the problems they’ve encountered haven’t put them off: “Thank you all, it is nice to see that the competition continues. I hope it will exist despite all the stuff happening around it. In some way that even motivates us to continue with our competition.”

A staged portrait series of people sentenced to life in prison took the Grand Prix.

In April a court in Belarus declared that a book of photos taken by 2011 competition photojournalists contained ‘extremist’ works.

Organiser Vadim Zamirovski says: “This is photojournalism and we should consider this photography as part of photojournalism. This is not a landscape photography. So if you only expect to see beautiful landscapes, then you shouldn’t look at World Press Photo, you understand, right? This is photojournalism, it uncovers problems that exist in society so that society could do something about it. It shows those weak spots. Some may not like it, but this is what journalism is for.”

The photos covered the entire range of subjects from news reportage to arts and sport.

The winner is chosen by a jury of Belarussian and foreign professional photographers. The pictures are published and displayed in Belarus and abroad.

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