Black Friday after-effect: Belarusian authorities block independent e-media


On December 20, the presidential Operative Analytical Centre reported that top shopping and news portal onliner.by had been excluded from the national domain zone upon request of the Trade Ministry.

According to the report of the OAC, the Trade Ministry had revealed violations of trade regulations, including work with online services. Onliner failed to take measures to remove the violations, so it was decided to “exclude the respective domain name from the register of the national segment zone”. We should remind that according to presidential edict №60, business activities of Belarusian companies can be performed only through the national domain zone.

Onliner.by has been among top retail trade websites, representing the biggest part of Belarusian business entities, and competing with another famous portal TUT.by. Both the websites started as catalogues and advertising platforms, but developed into huge portals with news, forums and projects.

Now Onliner is already unavailable.

This happens at the background of a really black Friday for both Belarusian finance system and websites. A temporary 30% levy on purchasing foreign currency has been enforced in Belarus on December 19, which is commonly regarded as a disguised devaluation. On this very day news portals Onliner and TUT.by were unavailable for some time. National communications service provider Beltelecom warned that users might experience problems while surfing the web because of DDoS attack. The attack might have been unintentional and caused by a huge number of people wanting to find out currency rates and just about what’s going on in the country.

After midday, reports about websites blocking came from Charter’97 and Belaruspartisan. According to Charter’97, the trouble was experienced in Belarus through Beltelecom channel. On December 20, the website has stayed unavailable, the editor saying it has been blocked at the main gateway.

On the evening December 19, gazetaby.com (Solidarity) also reported about access troubles assuming it was blocking because the website was available via proxies. As of evening December 20, it is still unavailable.

On December 20 at around 7 pm, the websites of the news agency BelaPAN and naviny.by were down, too.

It is to be recalled that from 2015 on the Ministry of Information will be empowered to order which content should be removed even to the websites that are not registered as mass media. In case of disobedience a defiant website may be blocked. The Belarusian MPs made the appropriate amendments to the law on media on December, 17.

Source: the Belarusian Association on Journalists

www.belsat.eu/en

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