MINSK — Belarus’s authoritarian government further tightened the screws on dissent yesterday by shutting down two independent newspapers and sending another opposition leader to prison for two years.
The Information Ministry said the daily newspapers Nasha Niva and Narodnaya Volya were closed after receiving two or more warnings in the past year over their political coverage.
Opposition leader Dmitry Bondarenko was found guilty in court of organizing an election-night rally in December to protest the results of the vote that extended the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko. “This is no more than a reprisal against political opponents,’’ Bondarenko told the court.
Police violently dispersed the rally, which drew tens of thousands of protesters. Some 700 people were arrested, including seven presidential candidates.
Seven opposition figures have already been sentenced to jail terms of two to four years for their part in the protest. Ten more, including presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, are still on trial.