Belarus: Two independent newspapers fined

Two of the few remaining independent newspapers in Belarus have each been fined 14m roubles (1,704 GBP) for minor infractions. Last month a legal bid to have them closed was withdrawn but both papers were warned of possible prosecutions that could lead to fines. Nasha Niva received was fined for failing to show its registration number in one of its latest issues, while Narodnaya Volya received a warning for getting a date wrong in a recent issue. Independent media in Belarus have received a torrent of warnings over their political coverage since the 11 April Minsk metro bombing.

Belarus shuts two newspapers; sends opposition leader to jail

On Wednesday (27 April) authorities in Belarus closed two independent newspapers, Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya. The Information Ministry said it acted after repeatedly warning both newspapers over their political coverage in the last year. In a separate incident yesterday (27 April), opposition leader Dimitry Bondarenko was found guilty of organising a rally in December to protest the election results which extended President Alexander Lukashenko’s term in office. The court has sentenced him to two years in prison.

Belarus: newspapers banned as journalists face trial

Belarus: The Ministry of Information has refused to register the newspaper Silnye Novosti Gomelya, run by the Pechatnoe Slovo company, according to the Belarusian Association of Journalists.  The refusal was justified on the basis that the editor’s qualifications did not meet the Ministry’s requirements. According to the BAJ, at least eight newspapers have been denied registration by the government since the autumn of 2009.  The news coincides with reports that a journalist and candidate for the city council in the town of Babruisk was beaten by police for raising the white-red flag of the Belarusian People’s Republic, a symbol of protest against the government of President Alexander Lukashenko. His trial continues.

Last week, pro-government activists held a picket in front of the offices of the opposition “Narodnaya Volya” newspaper over an extract they published from Illya Kopyl’s book Nyabyshyna, which documents activity of Soviet guerillas in the period of Nazi occupation. In other news, Maxim Vunyarski, an activist for the European Belarus movement, is to face trial for participating in a rally for Solidarity Day on March 16.