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Belarusian News Websites In Mourning

News websites in Belarus are mourning a harsh new media law by marking their home pages with black banners.

Officials say the new law is aimed at protecting society from the negative effects of the Internet. The law also forbids Belarusian media outlets from accepting foreign funding.

The lower house of parliament approved the legislation on June 23 and now goes to the upper house before being signed by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The new restrictions come before parliamentary elections in September.

The Internet has become one of the last places that Belarusians can find independent news and information.

Zhanna Litvina, head of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, says that "the threat of closing down numerous news sites and sources of independent information on the Internet is as real as ever."

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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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