In Latest Salvo Against Media, Belarus Takes Euronews Off Air

Belarusian authorities have stopped the European news network Euronews from broadcasting inside the country amid a campaign to muzzle independent media and journalists as part of the government’s crackdown on dissent following a disputed presidential election that returned strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to power.The Information Ministry said in a  Police officers detain a demonstrator as they prevent an opposition action to protest the official presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, March 27, 2021.The demonstrators are demanding that Lukashenka leave and new elections be held, but Belarus’s strongman has been defiant. Security officials have arrested thousands and forced Tsikhanouskaya and other top opposition figures out of the country.Several protesters have been killed in the violence and some rights organizations say there is credible evidence of torture being used against some of those detained.Meanwhile, Barys Haretski, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, says the government has embarked on the largest crackdown on journalists and rights activists Europe has ever seen.”Since last summer, the authorities have systematically created, let us say, ‘a Great Wall of China’ around Belarusian society. They have repressed journalists and shut down media outlets,” said Haretski.Lukashenka, who has run Belarus since 1994, and other top officials have been slapped with sanctions by the West, which refuses to recognize him as the legitimate leader of the country.Minsk-based media expert Paulyuk Bykouski said the move to ban Euronews cuts off a main point of access to fair and unfiltered news for Belarusians, who “do not have access to such information projects as CNN, Fox News, and any other channels that could be a possible alternative to what is being broadcast by Belarusian state media and Russian television channels.”