Authorities grasp independent Belarusian newspaper

Authorities confiscated thousands of copies of one of Belarus' largest independent newspapers, the paper's publisher said Monday, amid a mounting campaign by officials to pressure the opposition ahead of the presidential election later this month. Iosif Seredich, publisher of the Narodnaya Volya newspaper, said two trucks carrying 250,000 copies were seized in a border town overnight Sunday.

He said the paper, whose print run is normally around 30,000, had printed a special edition with photographs showing last week's beating of an opposition candidate, activists and journalists by security agents.

Authorities accused the paper, which is published in Russia to avoid being shut down by Belarusian officials, of preelection campaigning. Also Monday, Alexander Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate, said that his interview broadcast on national radio had been censored. The incumbent, Alexander Lukashenko, has ruled Belarus with an iron hand since 1994 and is widely expected to win the March 19 vote, reports the AP.


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