Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Andrei Bastunets: closure of unknown sites is warning to others

Illa Malinousky, Euroradio

Deputy Chairman of the BAJ commented on site closure over 'vulgar and taboo language'

On January 22, Ministry of Information restricted access to two sites. The decision to ban the sites was made in accordance with the new law "On mass media". It is reported that the sites used vulgar and taboo language capable of "causing damage to the national interests of the country, in particular the development of spiritual and moral potential of society".

According to the lawyer, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Andrei Bastunets, the only fact that the sites are still unknown is very telling.

What is it about? The information posted by the editorial team or the comments under the article? We know nothing, says Bastunets. There are more questions than answers. The only answer is that Ministry of Information can do anything, and that we see in practice. In my opinion, we are simply demonstrated using some local, lesser-known sites (otherwise we would have known who was closed), what could happen to others. I consider this step as a warning to everyone else.

Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists is convinced that the new version of the law "On mass media" contains many imprecise descriptions that can be interpreted depending on the situation. Even the list of banned information is very broad and not specific, which allows you to close the sites for any material.

There is article 9 which mentions language of the media, says lawyer on how the closure of sites over taboo vulgar language complies with the laws. It says that it is not allowed to use obscene words and expressions. It is not about a taboo language or anything else, it is specifically about obscene language! It turns out that article 9 makes profanity the information banned for dissemination. And another law permits the Ministry of Information to close the sites for the distribution of unauthorized information ... In my opinion, this situation is a warning for everyone else.

Andrei Bastunets would not predict if some other sites will be closed in the near future or any more independent sites should expect claims. He believes this is a question solely to the information minister Liliya Ananich.