MINSK – Belarus's Information Ministry has blocked access to the website of the Belarusian version of the popular Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.
The ministry justified its September 29 decision by saying materials on the site "could produce threats to national security, including through the artificial irritation of tensions and conflicts in society."
The publication posted on its Telegram channel that it had not received official notification that its site, which receives about 20,000 visitors a day, had been blocked.
Belarus has been in the throes of a political standoff since a disputed presidential election in August 2020 handed a sixth term to authoritarian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
Massive protests following the election were met by an often-brutal crackdown by security forces, while prominent nongovernmental organizations and independent media were closed.
The move against Komsomolskaya Pravda's website came after the website published on September 28 comments by an acquaintance of Andrey Zeltsar, a Minsk resident who some opposition figures have identified as the man who was shot dead by security forces in a shoot-out in the capital.
Pro-government Telegram channels harshly attacked the woman’s comments, after which the website reportedly made changes to the text.
In 2020, the print version of the newspaper was banned in Belarus.
“The country is becoming more and more like a besieged fortress,” said Vladimir Sungorkin, the longtime editor in chief of the Russian Komsomolskaya Pravda.
"It's getting tougher, tougher, and tougher there," he added.