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Belarus authorities shutting down major website

Authorities silencing major Belarus opposition site

Belarusian authorities must allow the independent news website to work freely, and should immediately and unconditionally release all of its employees in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement. Authorities have raided the site’s offices and the home of editor Marina Zolotova, taking the major independent website offline.

Officials said a criminal case had begun over “large-scale tax evasion” while international observers agree it’s part of a crackdown on dissenting voices criticizing Alexander Lukashenko’s claimed reelection in a presidential election denounced internationally as rigged.

“ co-founder Kirill Voloshin reports that the website’s domain has been blocked.” On messenger Telegram feed the site posted pictures showing broken locks on doors in the editor’s building and black plastic covering the glass door of the office.

Exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya accused Belarus authorities of seeking to “kill media, kill political parties & civic communities”.

A number of Belarusian journalists and others have been jailed in the past week

“Since at least two government entities cited different reasons for raiding and blocking and detaining its journalists, it’s clear that authorities’ only real motive is to censor Belarus’ premier independent news website out of fear of its reporting,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Authorities must release all employees immediately and without charge, and should allow the outlet to work freely.”

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