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Belarus blocks popular opposition website

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Minsk (AFP)

Former Soviet republic Belarus has blocked a top opposition website for spreading "illegal" content, the information ministry said Thursday.

The website of Charter 97, founded by opposition politician Andrei Sannikov who ran against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko in 2010, went down on Wednesday evening.

The information ministry said a decision was taken to "limit access" because the site "published information that is illegal to disseminate."

It cited a law prohibiting media from publishing information from unregistered organisations and anything that propagates extremism or harms national interests. The ministry did not clarify which of these restrictions had been violated.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, cracked down on the opposition following the 2010 election, jailing dozens.

The Charter 97 website's headquarters were raided and its editor fled Belarus and set up a new office in Warsaw.

According to the website, it gets three million hits every month. Editor Natalia Radina called the move "another blow to freedom of speech in Belarus."

Another popular opposition website, Belarus Partisan, was blocked in December but access was restored later.

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