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Belarusian opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya's Telegram channel, which has more than 100,000 subscribers, has been declared "extremist" by the authorities in Minsk amid an ongoing crackdown on civil society.

A Belarusian court has designated the official Telegram channel of exiled opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya and the platform Golos (Voice) as “extremist,” as the authorities continue their clampdown on the opposition, independent media, and civil society following last year’s disputed presidential election.

The decisions were made by the Tsentralny district court on October 15 based on information provided by the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption, known as GUBOPiK.

Anyone subscribing to channels or chats designated as extremist can face jail time or fines.

Tsikhanouskaya’s Telegram channel has more than 100,000 subscribers. It publishes statements by opposition leaders and information about the work of her team, among other things.

Golos, which publishes information about election fraud, has more than 94,000 subscribers.

Authorities have declared hundreds of Telegram channels and chats “extremist” since Belarus was engulfed by protests last year after a presidential election in August -- which the opposition and the West say was rigged -- gave authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka a sixth consecutive term.

In response, the government has cracked down hard on the pro-democracy movement, arresting thousands of people and pushing most of the top opposition figures out of the country.

Lukashenka, who has run the country since 1994, has denied any fraud in the election and refuses to negotiate with the opposition on a political transition and new elections.

Russia's Justice Ministry announced on October 15 that it had added two other media organizations to its list of "foreign agents." (file photo)

The Russian authorities have designated the legal entities of two media outlets – the Rosbalt news agency and the website -- as "foreign agents" amid an intensifying crackdown on the media and civil society across the country.

The Justice Ministry's website showed on October 15 it had added RS-Balt and Moscow Digital Media to its list of "foreign agents," bringing the number of individuals and entities on the register to 88.

The government uses the designation to label what it says are foreign-funded organizations that are engaged in political activity, as well as people linked to them.

The “foreign agents” laws require those designated to register with authorities and label their content with an intrusive disclaimer, with criminal fines for not doing so.

That has led to several media organizations shutting down as they lose revenues from spooked advertisers.

The designation also restricts other media from citing a “foreign agent” organization without including a disclaimer.

On October 14, the human rights organization Yakutia - Our Opinion became the 86th entity or individual to be included in the register of "foreign agents."

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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