Lukashenko closes Belarus main site, sues journalists – 05/18/2021 – Worldwide

The Belarusian dictatorship shut down the country’s main independent journalistic website, Tut.by, as part of a protracted crackdown on journalists, activists, opposition politicians and Belarusian citizens denouncing the regime. The Belarusian Information Ministry said the site was blocked “due to several violations of media law, including the publication of prohibited information.”

Investigators from the Financial Investigations Department of the State Control Commission (DFR, the tax agency already used against opposition leaders) also raided the press room of the vehicle, which is being prosecuted for “tax evasion. and royalty on a particularly large scale. », According to the dictatorship.

According to Tut.by reporters, all of the company’s equipment, such as computers and phones – including those that don’t work – were confiscated and bank cards were seized.

In an attempt to bypass the blockade on the site, journalists from various media have created mirror portals to keep coverage of the crackdown up to date. They reported that the homes of the journalists and editors of Tut.by had been searched and that there were journalists who were not found on Tuesday afternoon – the Home Office said it was not had no information about the arrests.

Since August 2020, when protests erupted against the re-election of Alexandr Lukachenko – considered rigged by international entities – around 70 information vehicles and civil rights organizations have been shut down by the dictatorship.

Belarusian and foreign journalists have been beaten and detained while covering protests against Lukachenko, and the credentials of foreign correspondents have been revoked. According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, 521 journalists have been detained in the country, of which 16 remain in prison, 11 of them on criminal charges.

In February, reporters Daria Chulstova and Katerina Andreieva of Poland-based opposition television station Belsat were sentenced to two years in prison for “promoting the unrest” by covering a demonstration.

On Saturday, journalists Alexander Burakov and Vladimir Laptsevich were arrested in a court in the eastern city of Mogilev, where they covered the trial of opposition politician Pavel Severinets, imprisoned since June last year.

On Monday, Tut.by journalist Liubov Kasperovich was sentenced to 15 days in administrative prison for “participating in an unregistered mass event”, and investigative journalist Katerina Borisevich was transferred from Minsk to Gomes two days before her release – she was sentenced on March 2. for a report that denied an official version of the death of a protester.

On a social network, the leader of the main opposition front to Lukashenko in the elections, Svetlana Tikhanovskaia, described the act of the regime as “premeditated murder of the media”.

She said she was in contact with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “We demand an urgent response from the EU, the urgent launch of a program of support for independent media, the protection of journalists and help to continue working despite the crackdown,” he said in an application Communication.

REPRESSION NUMBERS

Since the start of the presidential campaign in May 2020

2,300 criminal cases against political opponents, activists and demonstrators 631 criminal trials against demonstrators, with more than 400 convictions 332 criminal defamation, injuries to public officials and police officers 377 political prisoners in detention centers 522 arrests of journalists, 16 still in prison 97 journalists sentenced to administrative imprisonment 62 journalists assaulted 3 criminally convicted journalists

Sources: Belarusian Journalism Association, Viazna

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