General Prosecutor's Office explains why spring96.org was blacklisted
Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Center "Viasna" Valiantsin Stefanovich received a reply to his appeal to the Prosecutor General’s Office, which concerned the introduction of the website www.spring96.org in the list of restricted access resources.
Valiantsin Stefanovich previously addressed the President’s Operational and Analytical Center, which confirmed the decision to restrict access to specific sites, and the “BelGIE” enterprise, which is in charge of forming the lists of restricted access resources. However, the human rights defender was unable to find out who was the initiator of blacklisting the website spring96.org.
The Ministry of Communications and Informatization, in turn, told Mr. Stefanovich that “the Internet site spring96.org is not registered in the national segment of the Internet. The Ministry of Communications does not possess any information on issues related to restricting access to sites that are not registered in the national segment of the Internet.”
Finally, a response from the Prosecutor General’s Office, incidentally dated December 10 (International Human Rights Day), says that “the human rights organization “Viasna” is not registered by the Ministry of Justice as a public association, political party or entity of other organizational and legal forms...”
“Actions on behalf of the human rights organization “Viasna”, which has not passed the established procedure of state registration, are contrary to the legislation of the Republic of Belarus. In addition, organizing or participating in the activities of political parties, other public associations, religious organizations or foundations that have not passed in the prescribed manner the state registration procedures are punishable by criminal liability under Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code.
Due to the fact that for a long time the internet resource www.spring96.org has posted information that promotes acts prohibited by law, the Prosecutor General's Office in August 2011 issued a decision on the inclusion of an identifier for this online resource in the list of restricted access resources, which was forwarded to “BelGIE” for implementation,” further argues the response.
The letter from the Prosecutor General's Office is signed, however strange it may sound, by Head of Department for the Supervision of the Rights and Freedoms of Citizens, Mrs. Papova.
It should be noted that the Presidential Decree No. 60 “On Measures to Improve the Use of the National Segment of the Internet” was signed on February 1, 2010, and in June 2010 there came a joint Resolution of the Operational and Analytical Center under the President of the Republic of Belarus and the Ministry of Communications and Informatization aimed at regulating the procedures for restricting user access to Internet services featuring information prohibited for distribution in accordance with the legislation.
Hence the logical conclusion: why for almost a year Viasna’s website had not interested the Prosecutor General’s Office, and the decision to blacklist the site only appeared in August 2011? Probably because at this very time Ales Bialiatski, head of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", was arrested and these punitive actions of the authorities were meant to sanction the legitimate human rights activities of the HRC “Viasna”.
On February 16, 2011, the Prosecutor General’s Office issued an official warning to Ales Bialiatski for an illegal organization of a public association under Article 193-1 of the Criminal Code.
Human rights defender Valiantsin Stefanovich is going to challenge the decision of the Prosecutor General’s Office in court.
Having received the official response, the Human Rights Center "Viasna" prepared a statement, which is now available on our website.