Belarus blocks Kremlin-friendly Russian news agency Regnum

The authorities in Belarus have blocked access to the website of the Kremlin-friendly Russian news agency Regnum.

The October 30 move marked the first time Minsk blocked access to a Russia-based media site, despite previously blocking the Belarusian version of the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.

The government of longtime leader Aljaksandr Lukashenka did not issue a statement explaining the decision to block Regnum. However, the website has published numerous articles criticizing Belarus for its allegedly “anti-Russian” policies and calling for the two countries to unite quickly.

Belarus had previously blocked access to several western and independent media, including the websites of Deutsche Welle and Current Time, the Russian-speaking network operated by RFE / RL in collaboration with VOA.

RFE / RL President Jamie Fly condemned the current time being blocked and pledged to keep providing information to the Belarusian people.

“The attempts by the Lukashenka regime to criminalize journalism know no borders and are now depriving the Belarusian people of another independent source of news and information. Despite Lukashenka’s ongoing attacks, RFE / RL and Current Time will continue to provide objective coverage to the people of Belarus, ”he said.

In Belarus, dozens of news websites were banned and independent media outlets shut down as part of a widespread crackdown on information following unprecedented protests sparked by the August 2020 presidential election that gave authoritarian Lukashenka a sixth term. The opposition and the West say the vote was rigged to keep him in power.

The Lukashenka government cracked down on the pro-democracy movement, arrested thousands of people and pushed most of the opposition leaders out of the country. The Vyasna Human Rights Center holds 833 people as political prisoners.

Authorities have also declared hundreds of opposition Telegram channels and social media sites “extremist” and anyone who runs or uses such sites can face jail sentences or fines.

Most recently, on October 29, the Belarusian Interior Ministry classified three of the country’s most popular opposition social media channels as “extremist” organizations.

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