March 12, 2009 - Updated on January 20, 2016


The government said on 2 June 2008 that it could resort to Chinese expertise to block access to foreign websites likely to have a “bad influence” in Belarus. There is no evidence that such a filtering system has been put in place for the time being, but the authorities nevertheless do censor some opposition and news websites. The website of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty came under some of the most serious cyber-attacks since its founding between 26 April and 5 May 2008. The site promotes “citizen journalism” allowing users to post their own photos, film and articles. Head of the website’s Belarus service, Alexander Lukashuk, said the attack was the result of its live coverage from Minsk of the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, one of the major annual demonstrations. Human rights websites Charter 97 and Bieloruskii partisan have also been the target of similar attacks of unknown origin. From 10 February 2007, a decree adopted by the Council of Ministers has made Internet surveillance legal, forcing owners of cybercafés and computer clubs to denounce to police Internet users who go on to “sensitive” sites. It also forces them to register the browsing history on their computers over the previous 12 months, and to keep the information available for the security forces and the KGB. Further, President Alexander Lukashenko signed a new press law at the beginning of August that obliges media to comply with a new registration procedure. It will allow stricter state control of online publications and make it easier for the authorities to close media down.