• Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021
Rights group urges Western firms to stop Belarus TV ads
In this file photo taken on Friday, July 30, 2021, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, of Belarus, runs in the women's 100-meter run at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Japan. A feud between Belarusian Olympic sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and team officials that prompted her to seek refuge in Poland has again cast a spotlight on the repressive environment in the ex-Soviet nation, where authorities have unleashed a relentless crackdown on dissent. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
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A German-Swiss group that campaigns for human rights in Belarus called Wednesday for Western companies to stop buying airtime for advertising on the authoritarian country's state broadcasters.

Libereco said major consumer goods companies such as Procter & Gamble, Nestle and Mars were among the top advertisers on Belarusian state TV, according to a week-long analysis of primetime ads last month.

"Western companies must immediately end their financial support for dictator Alexander Lukashenko's propaganda TV," the group said.

Contacted for comment by The Associated Press, Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle said that "as a matter of principle, we do not position ourselves along political lines in the countries where we operate, and we comply with all applicable laws and sanctions."

In a statement, the company said advertising was an important way to reach consumers but that after a regular review "we have already significantly reduced our advertising budget for Belarus."

Sandoz, a subsidiary of Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, said it complies with "all relevant national and international regulations and requirements."

"We continue to carefully monitor developments in the country and to evaluate the situation accordingly," the company said in a statement.

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