(CNN)Fifteen Belarusian journalists have had their accreditation to work for the BBC and other foreign media outlets removed by the authorities, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) has said.
The move comes almost three weeks after Alexander Lukashenko was re-elected in a controversial presidential election, leading to mass protests from those who contest the results. The BBC confirmed in a statement to CNN that two journalists working for its Russian service in Minsk have had their press licenses taken away with immediate effect. Charlotte Morgan, the BBC’s Head of Communications, told CNN: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this stifling of independent journalism.”We call upon the Belarusian authorities to revoke this decision and allow our journalists to continue doing their jobs,” Morgan added. Read MoreThe statement also said that the British broadcaster believes it is “vital” that Belarusians can access “impartial, independent information” about what is happening in their country. In another move against press freedom, the Belarusian authorities detained almost 50 journalists earlier this week, according to the BAJ. 'He doesn't care if we live or die': How Belarusians shed decades of fear to rattle a strongman's iron gripResponding to the arrests, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter: “I condemn the mass detention of over 50 journalists last night in Belarus, including from @BBC, local & international media.” Raab described the move as a “blatant attempt” to interfere with the press and called on Belarus to stop its targeting of journalists. Of the journalists that were detained, all except four, who refused to hand over their phones, were later released. On Friday, Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, reiterated that the bloc “does not recognize the result of the election” and criticized the way the government’s crackdown on pro-democracy supporters. “We once again express our full support to Belarus’ sovereignty and independence and condemn the violent repression of the Belarusian people,” Borrell said. He also confirmed that the EU will sanction several officials in Belarus for their alleged role in the “fraudulent” presidential election and in the subsequent clampdown against protesters. “This designation shall include individuals at the high political level,” Borrell said. CNN’s James Frater contributed to this report.