First the website was blocked by “Rostelecom”, and later “Beltelecom” joined in, as it obeys on the nod.
Once again the regime has demonstrated its cowardice and absolute obedience to the Kremlin.
It is quite clear that blocking of our website is related to the fact how charter97.org covers the situation in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Today the Kremlin blocks independent sources of information, who write about the Russian-Ukrainian war objectively. Recently the website has become a powerful regional resource, which devotes lots of attention to Ukraine. We try to inform about what is going on in this country objectively, and we withstand the massive Russian and Belarusian propaganda.
Earlier charter97.org website was blocked only during some political campaigns, like presidential or parliamentary elections, or large-scale protest rallies of opposition. There is a calm period in politics in Belarus today. Amid a new “liberalization” and “dialogue” with the West actions of the authorities look absurd, and all the more so as there is no law in Belarus, that could allow and regulate blocking of a website for all users.
The reaction of Beltelecom is surprising. The only answer received by us from the state monopolist to the question about the reason of the website’s blocking, was “No comments”, though charter97.org is the largest news outlet of the country. The monthly audience of the website is 3.5 mln of unique visitors, including more than one million from Belarus. Charter97.org is read by much more people than all the state news agencies put together. Most likely, Beltelecom would not comment on its illegal actions because blocking is a political decision handed down from supreme authorities.
I can say unflinchingly that charter97.org is to continue its work. The authorities tried to struggle with us for 17 years of the website’s existence. They murdered us and imprisoned us. Searches were held at our places and all our equipment seized. Despite of that, we have survived and we continue to work for Belarus. We shall continue to be a hard nut for the regime, and we shall meet the new challenge as well.
We express gratitude to our colleagues-journalists from Belarus for their support. Blocking of the charter97.org website by the authorities is an attack against all independent websites of the country, against every blogger, every Internet user. In this situation we ask our visitors to express solidarity, stay together with us and fight for your right for receiving information. Whatever action is possible is to be taken, including taking to the streets for protest rallies, with a demand to respect your legal rights.
I am sure that blocking of the leading Belarusian independent website is to receive a consistent and fair treatment by the world community. Both sanctions against the state monopolist “Beltelecom” and the regime in general could follow.
Solidarity in Internet is a real power. No one can deprive people of their right to independent information.
Let’s stand together, and Belarus will become free!
Natallya Radzina, editor-in-chief of charter97.org website, a former convict of the KGB prison (“Amerikanka”)