Belarus blocks citizens' favourite news portal
The Belarusian authorities have blocked news website tut.by - the country's most popular online media outlet and one of the last independent sources of information. Its editorial offices and the flats of staff were also searched, and several employees were arrested. The official line is that they are suspected of tax fraud. The authorities justified the blocking of the website by saying that it had published "prohibited information".
Out for total destruction
There is a new quality to this attack on Tut.by, Gazeta Wyborcza explains:
“This is not the first time such a thing has happened in the website's twenty-year history. Alexander Lukashenka's regime has repeatedly tried to exert pressure on it, censor it and even close it down. Now, however, the authorities seem to have decided to destroy the outlet itself.”
Only Telegram will survive the purge
VTimes describes the current state of the Belarusian media landscape:
“It is not impossible that the website will resume its activities in the foreseeable future - but with different owners. In that case, however, it will only be a fake copy of the real tut.by. The state power is systematically purging the independent space, taking advantage of the sluggish reaction of society, which has been intimidated by the repression and returned to its vegetative state (at least for the time being). Yet the destruction of tut.by does not solve the problem for the state power. Its audiences will switch to Telegram channels, which already don't care about the standards of professional media. As a result, Lukashenka will only be confronted with an even more aggressive media landscape.”