Belarus Radio That Aired Opposition Ads Taken Off Air

MINSK -- A Minsk-based radio station that broadcast campaign advertisements for opposition presidential candidates has been taken off the air due to the cancellation of its license, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Autoradio went off the air just after noon local time, one day after the National Commission for Broadcasting pulled its broadcasting license.

The supervisory body's reported justification for the action appeared to dovetail with authorities' efforts to cast political dissent in the wake of last month's tainted presidential vote as seditious.

"The commission's decision cancels the right of Autoradio to broadcast from the ground in connection with 'its failure to stick to its declared programming concept and the dissemination of information that contained public appeals for extremist actions,'" Autoradio said in a statement.

During the campaign for last month's presidential election, Autoradio broadcast some campaign material of opposition candidates Andrey Sannikau and Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu. The material was aired as advertisements under formal contracts with the two candidates.

Autoradio also said in its statement that there were no objections to those broadcasts during the election campaign from either the Central Election Commission or the Ministry of Information.

Autoradio said it would appeal the cancellation of its license in court.

Hundreds of Belarusians were rounded up at postelection demonstrations and subsequently, including Sannikau and Kyaklyaeu, both of whom remain in custody along with others accused of agitating against the state.


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