The media is accused of tax evasion and violations of the media law. Employees are being searched
The Ministry of Information of Belarus has restricted access to the country’s most popular online publication, TUT.BY. The project’s domain is blocked, and the backup address tutby.com is also unavailable. At the time of publication, only a mirror of the tutby.news website was open.
What is TUT.BY accused of
On the morning of May 18, employees of the Financial Investigation Department of Belarus (DFR) came to the TUT.BY office with a search. Searches were also carried out at the homes of several editors of the publication.
Later, the State Control Committee of Belarus reported that a criminal case was opened against the officials of TUT.BY in connection with tax evasion. According to the DFR, the company received revenue “not due to activities permitted for residents of the Park of High Technologies” (HTP is a special economic zone for Belarusian IT companies and the creative sphere).
The Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus, in turn, reported that it “established numerous facts of violations of the law on mass media in terms of posting prohibited information” by TUT.BY.
What do representatives of TUT.BY and the Belarusian media market say
The chronicle of events on his Facebook page is published by the co-founder of TUT.BY Kirill Voloshin. He urged to follow the news on social networks and mobile applications of the publication, which are still available.
Adsider contacted TUT.BY with a question about whether the publication plans to launch on an alternative domain. “Now we understand the situation and are focused on providing legal support to employees,” commented Kirill Voloshin. Several media workers were detained by security officials, and representatives of law enforcement agencies took away directors of companies associated with Voloshin.
Media manager from Belarus Anton Kashlikov says that TUT .BY is the main information resource in the country. According to Gemius, which takes into account only the audience of the Belarusian Internet, TUT.BY has more than 3 million users and over 60% coverage in the country.
Anton Kashlikov, media manager
“It cannot be said that TUT.BY was not touched before. Since August 2020, dozens of journalists and employees of the publication have gone through detentions, arrests and criminal cases. Right now, TUT.BY journalist Lyubov Kasperovich is on the watch. The journalist of the publication Katerina Borisevich was sentenced to six months in a criminal case. Despite the tough pressure, TUT.BY continued its work as before — promptly, professionally, clearly and deliberately.
With the attack on TUT.BY, a new wave of repressions against the Belarusian media begins. In fact, with this attack, the authorities give the go-ahead to crush any independent media in the country that somehow continue to exist.
According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, right now 16 media representatives are behind bars. But these were figures without taking into account today’s case.”