Belarus Tightens Grip On Internet

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MINSK, Belarus, Jan. 3 (UPI) — Internet users in Belarus who visit Web sites hosted in other countries could soon face fines of up to $125 under a new law, authorities say.

Internet cafe owners could also be fined and have their businesses closed down if their customers are found visiting Web sites outside Belarus, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

The law, intended to guarantee all e-commerce takes place within the virtual borders of the landlocked East European nation, could have far-reaching effects beyond Belarus, analysts said.

As an example, Amazon, which is not registered in Belarus, could potentially be sued for violating national law if it sells products to people in Belarus.

The country of about 9.5 million people has been ruled by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, and has been called “the last remaining true dictatorship in the heart of Europe” by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Belarus listed as a “country under surveillance” for Internet censorship by Reporters Without Borders.

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