Authorities confirm block on charter97.org, cite Media Law violations

The Belarusian information ministry confirmed on Thursday that it had blocked access to popular pro-opposition news website charter97.org.

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In a statement, the ministry accused the website of spreading information that may not be distributed under Article 38 of the Media Law and warned that all media organizations needed to abide by the law.

Article 38 prohibits the dissemination of information on behalf of unregistered organizations, as well as the distribution of information promoting the use and manufacture of illegal drugs, and information "aimed at the propaganda of war, extremist activity or containing calls for such activity, pornography, violence and cruelty, as well as other information, the distribution of which can harm the national interests" of Belarus.

The website became inaccessible on January 24. Visitors to the website saw a message saying that it was on the list of websites access to which was restricted by the government in accordance with Presidential Edict No. 60, the Information and Analytical Center’s Directive No. 4/11, Presidential Decree No. 6, and the Information and Analytical Center’s Directive No. 6/8.

When reached by BelaPAN on Thursday, Warsaw-based charter97.org editor Natallya Radzina described the block on the website as "another blow to freedom of speech" and said that the website would "defend itself, including at the international level."

In December last year, the information ministry blocked access to another popular pro-opposition news website, belaruspartisan.org, over what it described as "systemic" violations of the Media Law. The website reemerged two days later as belaruspartisan.by and remains accessible.