The US embassy in Belarus condemned the unrelenting repression of the Alexander Lukashenko regime against the independent portal TUT.by, its journalists and employees, the US Embassy in Minsk wrote in a statement on Tuesday.
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On Tuesday, the Belarusian State Control Committee announced the initiation of criminal proceedings against the management of the largest Belarusian independent website, TUT.by, for alleged tax crimes. Authorities searched the editorial office and at least 13 employees were detained.
At the same time, access to the TUT.by website was blocked. The Prosecutor General’s Office explained that this was related to “publishing prohibited content.”
“The raids on Tut.by’s offices as well as the homes of staff members under the guise of a spurious tax-fraud investigation are the latest in a series of punitive actions directed against a media outlet whose primary ‘crime’ appears to be its objective reporting on peaceful protests resulting from the fraudulent 2020 elections and the regime’s violent and cruel actions in response,” the embassy said.
The United States condemns the Lukashenka regime’s relentless persecution of independent media outlet https://t.co/uexuunc514, its journalists and staff. See the Embassy’s statement: https://t.co/ovhG4WMuwc pic.twitter.com/EYgVVxkP8Y
— U.S. Embassy Minsk (@USEmbBy) May 18, 2021
“The authorities have stripped Tut.by of legal status as a media outlet; fined, jailed, and physically attacked its journalists; repeatedly maligned and threatened it; blocked its website; and appear intent on incapacitating it through a malign misuse of the tax laws,” the statement stressed.
The American embassy reminded that the TUT.by news website was deprived of the mass information center status. The US called on Belarus to respect the commitments it has made in respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“The US supports a sovereign and independent Belarus, one that upholds its international commitments to protect human rights,” the American diplomats concluded.
? Popular #Belarusian media outlet https://t.co/mmEely3JOL in crosshairs: Raids on offices, journos’ homes, website blocked. Criminal case launched against company officials over ‘large-scale tax evasion’ (To be updated) https://t.co/lb5o4E4Vk4 #Belarus #Minsk #StandWithBelarus pic.twitter.com/wRJpakMUBT
— Belsat in English (@Belsat_Eng) May 18, 2021