Reporters Without Borders is concerned about measures adopted by the government with the aim of tightening its grip on the Internet. The special services are using interrogation and seizure to harass and intimidate Internet users and online journalists, while at the legislative level there reinforcing restrictions on free expression in Internet, reads the report of the organization.
As stated in Reporters Without Borders, «the authorities are trying to get a firm grip on Internet as they already have on other media». «These campaigns of intimidation have been growing as a presidential election approaches. They must be brought to an end to permit the pluralistic debate and criticism that are necessary for any free election».
Human rights activists also criticized the decree № 60 «On measures to improve the use of national segment of Internet», entered into force on July 1. As noted in Reporters Without Borders, state institutions’ mandatory filtering of websites, which are considered extremist, and forced registration of Internet cafes users, «will inevitably discourage people from visiting independent and opposition websites».
Human rights activists also reminded that, according to the decree, in Belarus there created Operational Analysis Centre, which, in their view, is nothing else but censorship institution at the highest level since by the center’s request a website’s closure must be carried out within 24 hours.
As an example of freedom of speech limitation in Internet, human rights defenders named Vitebsky Kuryer newspapers, which website was blocked on July 5 because of «ideological reasons». Reporters Without Borders also noted opposition internet resource Vialejka.org and website of Charter 97 organization, persecuted because of posted comments. The first site was blocked, the editor of the second, Natalia Radzina, was interrogated four times in six months. According to activists, the authorities also seized computers from as users of Vialejka.org wwbsite so and from Charter 97 editorial office.
Human rights activists also underlined that nine members of the National Bolshevik Party, staged an unauthorised demonstration for freedom in Internet on June 23, were fined.