. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarus Shuts Down NTV Office

MINSK, Belarus -- Belarus shut the office of NTV television on Tuesday after accusing it of slandering the government in a report on the funeral of Vasil Bykov, a writer and opponent of President Alexander Lukashenko.

The closure, the latest in a series of much-criticized moves against domestic and foreign media working in Belarus, follows the expulsion last month of the channel's correspondent, Pavel Selin, on the same charges.

"The reason [for the closure] is the same -- the publication of incorrect information," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, adding that the NTV office had lost its accreditation.

Selin was told to leave Belarus after airing an interview with opposition figure Stanislav Shushkevich as part of the channel's coverage of Bykov's funeral.

In Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said that Russian diplomats would raise the issue of the NTV office's closure with the Belarussian government and that he hoped the channel could resume working there soon.

The Press Ministry said such moves were an attempt to put pressure on Russian media and were a violation of democratic norms, calling the actions typical of "totalitarian states."

Lukashenko has repeatedly railed against what he calls Russian and foreign propaganda, even rallying the military to the task by saying "every officer should be a consistent and active guardian of the state policy and ideology."

(AP, Reuters)