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Belarus2 September 2004

Government suspends satirical newspaper

Reporters Without Borders today strongly condemned the Belarus government’s suspension of the satirical newspaper Navinki, the latest of several in the run-up to next month’s parliamentary elections.

"The increase in suspensions of outspoken media for bogus administrative reasons at this time is an alarming sign," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "The systematic crackdown on the independent press is utterly incompatible with the holding of free elections.

"We have several times asked information minister Vladimir Rusakevich, who shut down Navinki for three months on 27 August, not to suspend any media during the election campaign. He has not responded to this request and it has clearly been ignored."

Ruskevich said the paper had not informed the ministry of its new address and its new publication schedule, as required by law. The paper was fined and suspended for three months in May last year after it ran photos of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko along with by allegedly libellous comments.

The minister suspended the independent weekly Novaya Gazeta Smorgoni, in the western town of Smorgon, on 16 August and the opposition weekly Rabochaya Solidarnost on 3 June, both for three months and for administrative reasons.

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