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Belarus: Imminent closure threat lifted for two newspapers but harassment continue

The Belarus information ministry has withdrawn two complaints against independent dailies Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya under which they had been threatened with closure since April 25. The complaints were withdrawn during hearings before the Supreme Economic Court on July 12 and 13, according to Paris-based press freedom group Reporters sans Frontières (RSF).

The move was a “rare example of good sense,” Nasha Niva editor Andrei Skurko said. “The pressure of public opinion on the authorities and the many letters of support from readers undoubtedly had a lot to do with this surprising decision by the Belarusian authorities.”

The two newspapers nonetheless continue to be the target of harassment. Narodnaya Volya editor Iosif Syaredzich said his newspaper could be fined soon for alleged “technical violations” of the media law and both newspapers have received new warnings.

Nasha Niva has received a warning for not showing its registration number in one of its latest issues, and Narodnaya Volya has received a warning for getting a date wrong in a recent issue. Both received visits from officials at the start of this week in which they were warned of possible prosecutions leading to fines.

Under article 51 § 2.2 of the media law, the authorities can close a news media that gets more than two warnings from the information ministry in one year. As Nasha Niva had received three warnings and Narodnaya Volya had received four, the ministry had requested their closure.

Date posted: July 15, 2011 Last modified: May 12, 2018 Total views: 46