Status: Not Free
Legal Environment: 26
Political Influences: 31
Economic Pressures: 25
Total Score: 82

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 68
Religious Groups: n/a
Ethnic Groups: Belarusian (78 percent), Russian (11 percent), other, including Polish and Ukrainian (11 percent)
Capital: Minsk

The year-round, systematic suppression of the news media by the Lukashenka regime was heightened during the presidential election campaign in 2001. The government confiscated equipment of an independent printing house, and from the newspapers Volny Horad, Belaruska Ushod, and Narodnaya Volya. The government also seized 400,000 copies of a special election issue of Nasha Svboda. Internet users were denied access to socio-political websites, including those covering the presidential election in real time, according to Charter-97, an NGO. State news media are subordinated to the president, whose regime controls press content and appointment of senior editors. Independent print media are routinely harassed and censored. Most Belarussians, however, receive Russian television broadcasts, which carry news of Belarus. The Law on Press and Other Media prohibits coverage of any association not registered with the state and severely limits journalists' ability to criticize a public official. The State Press Committee can arbitrarily shut down publications without court orders. To further strengthen these controls, parliament is considering a bill on information security.

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