Authorities finishing freedom of speech in Belarus?

Control over the internet is here to stay. Members of the House of Representatives have almost unanimously approved the amendments to the law on mass media. It seems, however, that even the authors and supporters of the project do not understand how they will be implemented.

The official reason for them is the protection of state, public interests and national security. But in fact it is another deterioration of the country’s image through the restriction of freedom of speech.

Ninety-eight voted “for” and only two voted “against”. Members of the House of Representatives adopted amendments to the Law on Mass Media in the first reading.

The changes were presented by the new information minister Alyaksandr Karlyukevich. Among his arguments were the need for the Belarusian legislation to comply with the Russian and Kazakh ones. That is, countries that have taken a hundred and forty-eighth and one hundred and fifty seventh place among one hundred and eighty possible in the current ranking of press freedom.

The Internet is the only space in Belarus, free from control. But now it is probably true to say that it was the only such space. The adopted amendments provide for the blocking of social networking sites and ban of anonymous comments.

Media expert meeting Paulyuk Bykouski was following the meeting. According to his observations, the deputies asked the Minister eight questions for clarification.

In early April, Lukashenka made a public order to the State media. Apparently, he was also heard byhe elected officials.

“It is a struggle for the minds and souls of the Belarusians. (…) Media information has turned into a weapon. This weapon is more powerful than nuclear one. After all, a small charge in the form of certain news instantly covers the entire planet,” said Lukashenka.

It is dangerous to give such force to the opponents. The amendments provide for the registration of Internet resources as online publications, and a ban on the distribution of products media products without permission.

Amendments are to be subject to the second and final reading. But experts say that sensations in the form of deviations from the official rhetoric are not to be expected.

Lola Buryeva, “Belsat”. Photo:

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