Belarus lifts ban on two regime-critical newspapers

Belarus MapMinsk/Moscow - The leadership of Belarus lifted a ban on two regime-critical newspapers after almost three years, the advisor to authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday in Minsk.

The decision was taken out of domestic interests, but the country hopes for better relations with the West after the step, a source said.

The two papers affected - the Nasha Niva and the Narodnaya Volya - were banned in early 2006 due to "serious breaches." However, those wanting to purchase the papers will have to register by name and have the papers delivered.

The European Union, which froze relations in 2004 with Belarus in reaction to a lack of democracy there, welcomed the removal of the ban.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) nonetheless criticized Belarus' planned tightening of media laws. According to Hans-Jochen Schmidt, the head of the OSCE office in Belarus, the planned limits to internet media especially did not meet OSCE standards. (dpa)