Two independent websites, of Nasha Niva newspaper nn.by and Ezhednevnik ej.by received written warnings from the Ministry of Information.
The information about it appeared on the website of the Ministry on March 2 under the title “Law is to be observed”.
EJ.by was warned for “discretization of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus: the text about military potential of the Belarusian army was accompanied by a photo of German transport dating back to WWII.
NN.by was warned for the publication “In Belarus red level of demographic alarm: each year, a district center “gets extinct”. The information is not true, says the Ministry, referring to the data of the Belarusian Statistics Committee http://belstat.gov.by/. “Such inaccurate information in the article on nn.by discredits the effectiveness of the state demographic policy,” writes the Ministry.
Two warning are enough to get blocked by the Ministry of Information.
Also, the Ministry reports that within the period from January 2015 to March 2016, it restricted access to 46 websites, for the reasons that the websites violated the presidential decree on counteracting illegal drugs trade; using tabooed and vulgar lexicon; distribution of information aimed to propagate pornography; improper advertising of medical substances; distribution of information which can be harmful to national interests; advertising alcohol drinks; distributing extremist materials.
The chairperson of BAJ Andrei Bastunets underlines that a warning is not a preventive measure, but a sanction. Two warnings can result in a closure of the mass medium. As for an online resources, this is a precedent because earlier the Ministry did not even issue warnings – it ordered to block websites straightaway (as it was the case with kyky.org). The lawyer emphasizes that it is an unacceptable intervention of the state into freedom of speech. No one knows if the Ministry has done it by its own initiative, or somebody requested to act this way. Andrei Bastunets suggests that there are other ways to argue: for instance, for the interested persons to question the mass media involved and demand refutation.
Nasha Niva editors answered that the article concerned was written by a reader in the section Opinions, and the author supported his opinion with arguments; the newspaper draws attention that they had also published the official demographic data of Belstat.