Viasna site still on blacklist
Valiantsin Stefanovich, a member of the Board of the Human Rights Center "Viasna", has received an answer to his appeal to the Ministry of Information asking to explain the blocking of the human rights website spring96.org.
In his appeal, Stefanovich urged the Ministry to provide information on who and on what grounds ruled to block access to Viasna’s website and to take immediate measures to unblock the resource. The activist stressed that those guilty of violating constitutional rights had to be punished, since censorship is prohibited under Art. 33 of the Belarusian Constitution.
The Ministry of Information replied that the site was blacklisted on the basis of a notification from the Presidential Operations and Analysis Center, a government agency in charge of regulating the protection of classified information. The Ministry, however, failed to send a copy of the order and did not explain the reasons for blocking. The reply also argues that the decision to restrict access to Viasna’s website was taken on August 21, although in fact the resource has been partially inaccessible since about August 11.
Yet, the exact date is unknown, since the Internet in Belarus started showing serious disruptions after the August 9 election. Access to the Russian version of the site is still partially limited. It is also inaccessible through several mobile operators. Together with the Viasna website, on August 21, the Ministry of Information restricted access to more than 70 Internet sources, including popular news websites and election monitoring platforms.
This is not the first attempt to blacklist the website of the Human Rights Center "Viasna". In 2013, the site was added to the list of resources with limited access by a decision of the Prosecutor General's Office, because "actions on behalf of the human rights organization "Viasna", which did not pass state registration, contradict the legislation of the Republic of Belarus." The decision was based on Article 193.1 of the Criminal Code, which was in force at the time and prohibited the organization or participation in the activities of unregistered organizations (the Article was repealed in 2018).
In 2016, Viasna’s website was prohibited for users in government agencies, educational and cultural institutions and blocked by some providers.