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Belarus: Minsk Formally Closes Russian Television Station

Minsk, 8 July 2003 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian authorities today formally closed the offices of a Russia television station after accusing it of slandering the government. The closure of the offices of Russia's NTV follows last month's expulsion of Pavel Selin, Minsk bureau chief and reporter for the station. A Foreign Ministry spokesman today said the station was closed for the same reason behind Selin's expulsion.

Belarusian government statements said Selin's expulsion came after what it said were "distortions and false information" in a report he made on the funeral of Belarusian author Vasil Bykau. The report showed memorial speakers at the funeral speaking out against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Belarus is often criticized by rights groups for stifling press freedoms and cracking down on the opposition.