The oldest newspaper in Belarus was banned on the occasion of its 115th anniversary. This is the latest government’s relentless suppression of independent media in the former Soviet Union.
Kiev, Ukraine-The oldest newspaper in Belarus was banned on Tuesday’s 115th anniversary, the latest in the government’s ruthless crackdown on independent media in the former Soviet Union.
At the request of the Ministry of Information, the Minsk Central District Court declared the Nasha Niva newspaper an extremist.
The ruling will expose anyone who publishes or reposts Nasha Niva materials to up to seven years in prison.
The Belarusian authorities blocked the online newspaper in July and arrested its editor-in-chief Yahor Martsinovich and journalist Andrey Skurko, who are still in detention.
In total, 29 Belarusian journalists have been detained, serving sentences or awaiting trial.
Most other Nasha Niva reporters have left the country and continue to publish newspapers online, changing their domain names to bypass the blockade.
“The authorities continue to destroy the independent media in Belarus, saying that everyone is an extremist,” said Andrei Bastunets, the head of the Belarusian Journalists Association. “The situation in Belarus is worse than Cuba or Iran, and it is approaching North Korea’s standards.”
He pointed out that Nasha Niva is widely mentioned in school textbooks as part of the national heritage, adding that it is not yet clear how the Belarusian authorities will deal with this situation after the ban.
Nasha Niva has extensively reported on the large-scale anti-government protests that broke out last year, after President Alexander Lukashenko was condemned as being manipulated by the opposition and the West for a sixth term in the August 2020 presidential election. .
The Belarusian authorities responded with a total crackdown. More than 35,000 people were arrested and thousands were beaten by the police.
This month, tensions on the border between Belarus and Poland have increased due to the influx of immigrants. The European Union accuses the Lukashenko government of carefully planning its east wing migration wave as a “hybrid attack” in retaliation for the EU’s sanctions against Belarus for suppressing protesters.
Follow all Associated Press reports on developments in Belarus at https://apnews.com/hub/Belarus.