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Euronews goes off-air in Belarus after its licence is not renewed

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Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko
Belarus president Alexander Lukashenko   -   Copyright  Andrei Stasevich/BelTA
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Belarus has stopped broadcasting Euronews' Russian language news channel.

The country's ministry of information said in a statement the company's permission to broadcast had expired. It was not renewed because adverts were being broadcast in English, instead of being translated into Russian or Belarusian, a ministry spokesperson told Ria Novosti.

The statement added the news channel would be replaced by programming on the Second World War produced by Russia.

"We deeply regret the decision which has been taken to suspend, as of today, the broadcasting of Euronews in Belarus," Euronews said in a statement.

"We have not been notified of this decision nor of the reasons for it and learned of it this morning through the press.

"Euronews is proud to be recognised, around the world, as an independent media outlet providing scrupulously factual and impartial news in Russian as well as in all its other language editions. For almost three decades, our mission has been to empower people to form their own opinions by offering a diversity of viewpoints.

"Euronews values freedom of the press and will do its utmost to ensure that its audiences in Belarus can very soon again have access, on television, to its hallmark impartial and quality journalism.

"In the meantime, these audiences will be able to continue following us on our digital platforms."

Belarus' top opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who was forced to leave the country for neighbouring Lithuania after last August's election, called the move "another attack on independent media & violation of freedom of the press".

"In Belarus, journalists are persecuted, media are blocked & repressed. Lukashenka's regime tries to ban the truth. We must support media," she added.

Belarus has faced a political crisis and mass protests since an election marred by allegations of widespread fraud in August last year.

Alexander Lukashenko claimed his sixth term as president as Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in the vote, was forced to leave the country under pressure from authorities.

The largest post-election protests attracted up to 200,000 people.

More than 30,000 people have been detained since the demonstrations began, with thousands beaten, according to human rights groups.