Belarusian Ministry Warns Independent Monthly

The Information Ministry has issued two official warnings to the Belarusian-language monthly "Arche," a Minsk-based high-profile intellectual magazine devoted to literature and culture, thus putting the periodical under the threat of closure, Belapan reported on February 21. According to Deputy Information Minister Liliya Ananich, who signed both warnings, the monthly violated the media law by publishing three issues in January and thus changing its periodicity of publication. The Information Ministry suspended the publication of "Arche" for the last three months of 2006, objecting to articles on politics and the 2006 presidential election published in the monthly's September 2006 issue. To supply readers and subscribers with the three delayed issues, the editors published them in January. "Arche" Editor in Chief Valer Bulhakau explained that had "Arche" not done this, Belposhta, Belarus's postal monopoly, would have canceled the delivery contract and the subscribers would be left without the issues they had paid for. According to Bulhakau, the real reason behind the current warnings were articles critical of top-ranking government officials published by "Arche" in the past. Bulhakou said a potential new suspension would ruin the monthly. "To resume publication, we would need to get the approval of the ideology department of the Minsk City Executive Committee, which is impossible in the present situation," he added. JM