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Belarus Could Enact Law To Prosecute 'Fake News'

The Prosecutor-General's Office in Belarus is drafting legislation that would enable the state to prosecute people suspected of spreading "false" information on the Internet.

Prosecutor-General Alyaksandr Kanyuk told reporters in Minsk on June 6 that such a bill is "necessary" to prevent libel and curb the spread of false information that "turns public opinion upside down, which leads to big consequences."

"We are working on the issue. The Introduction of a hefty fine or criminal prosecution is not ruled out," Kanyuk said.

In April, Belarusian lawmakers gave preliminary approval to media-law amendments that would strengthen government control over media and the Internet.

That legislation would require that authors of all posts and comments in online forums be identified and that comments be moderated by website owners.

It would allow for social networks and other sites to be blocked if found in violation.

Critics say they fear authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's government would use the law as a tool to tighten control over the Internet.

With reporting by and BelTA
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    RFE/RL's Belarus Service

    RFE/RL's Belarus Service is one of the leading providers of news and analysis to Belarusian audiences in their own language. It is a bulwark against pervasive Russian propaganda and defies the government’s virtual monopoly on domestic broadcast media.