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DATELINE/ BELARUS

Lack of Broadcasts Has Fans in Uproar

June 04, 2002|Jim Barrero

About 150 enraged soccer fans gathered in the capital of Minsk to protest a lack of World Cup coverage on national television, calling it an insult to a soccer-loving nation.

As with all protests in tightly controlled Belarus, rows of police monitored the crowd of mostly young men wearing soccer team paraphernalia. No violence was reported.

The protesters complained the government-run broadcaster had not bought rights to show World Cup games. It was unclear why the Belarusian National Broadcasting Company, did not obtain coverage rights, though protesters said it was because the company is too poor. Belarus has no major media outlets that aren't state controlled.

"It's an event of a planetary scale. To deprive an entire people such viewing is to spit in the soul of each person," said protester Vladlimir Akulich.

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