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Belarus blocks news site that covered protests

July 8, 2021

Nasha Niva, one of Belarus' oldest newspapers, is the latest independent media organization in Belarus to be targeted by authorities over its reporting.

Belarus police behind bared wire in August 2020
Media outlets covering the protests in Belarus have been targeted since August 2020Image: Vasily Fedosenko/REUTERS

Authorities in Belarus on Thursday blocked the website of Nasha Niva, a leading online media outlet, and detained several of its journalists. 

Belarus' Information Ministry said it moved against the website for posting unspecified "unlawful" information. 

The block is the latest in a widespread crackdown on independent media in Belarus. Last year, the government faced a massive protest movement against strongman President Alexander Lukashenko. 

Nasha Niva journalists detained

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) said police carried out searches of Nasha Niva's offices, and detained its editor-in-chief, Yahor Martsinovich, along with editor Andrey Skurko. Their apartments were also searched. 

Martsinovich's wife confirmed on Facebook that he had been detained.

The BAJ added that four other journalists at the outlet could not be reached. On social media, Nasha Niva also said that it had lost contact with several employees

Clampdown on media in Belarus 

Nasha Niva, a weekly newspaper founded in 1906, is one of Belarus' oldest and most trusted media outlets.

The paper extensively covered the months of intense protests against the reelection of Lukashenko in a vote that is widely considered to be rigged.

Another popular news website that covered the protest movement, Tut.by, also had access blocked in May, and 12 of its journalists were arrested on tax evasion charges. 

In May, Belarusian authorities forcefully diverted a Ryanair flight to Minsk and arrested dissident journalist Raman Pratasevich, resulting in heavy sanctions from the European Union. 

The BAJ said 27 Belarusian journalists were currently either sitting in jail or awaiting trial. 

"The crackdown on independent media in Belarus is continuing,'' BAJ head Andrei Bastunets told the AP news agency. 

"The authorities see journalists and independent information as their main enemies," he added.   

wmr/dj (AP, AFP)