Updated at 14:17,22-06-2022

Belarus Restricts Access To RFE/RL, Dozens Of Websites


Belarus Restricts Access To RFE/RL, Dozens Of Websites
Users trying to access the blocked sites received a message from the Ministry of Information.
Belarusian authorities have restricted access to RFE/RL's Belarus Service and dozens of other websites in a bid to control information following postelection protests challenging President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The order issued by the Ministry of Information on August 21 came as massive protests were expected to continue over the weekend despite a crackdown and a series of threats from authorities against the opposition.

In addition to the website of RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Svaboda.org, 72 websites and proxy VPN services were blocked.

"The targeted blockage of Svaboda.org -- our Belarusian Service's website -- inside Belarus is an additional way that the government of President Lukashenka is seeking to prevent us from reaching our audiences with critical information, and to isolate the people of Belarus," RFE/RL said in a statement. "It is part of a full-on information blockade."

When loading the sites, a message appears stating that access is blocked based on a decision by the Belarusian Ministry of Information.

Among the other news websites blocked were Belsat, Euroradio, and Mediazona Belarus.

The order also restricted access to websites designed to monitor the results of the August 9 election, including the Zubr.in and Voice platforms.

Websites tied to the Belarusian rights NGO Vyasna, which has monitored the crackdown on the opposition before and after the election, were also restricted.

In the postelection crackdown about 7,000 people were detained, hundreds were injured, and three people died. Some of those who have been released since have complained of beatings and terrible conditions while in detention.

Belarus has experienced Internet disruptions since the election, in which Lukashenka claimed a landslide victory that the opposition led by Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and European Union says was rigged.

Analysts say Internet service has been disrupted in order to hamper protesters in their efforts to organize as well as to prevent negative commentary about the election results.

Dozens of journalists have been detained or harassed during the election campaign and ensuing postelection protests, including several from RFE/RL.