The ministry asked the highest court to ban the Belarusian Association of Journalists, due to alleged shortcomings in the office lease documents.
The association stated that it could not provide documents to respond to the lawsuit because its offices were sealed from last week’s police raid.
The association was formed in 1995 and has 1,204 members. It is the largest and most reputable journalism association in Belarus, and is part of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
The authorities ‘effort to ban the Association comes at a time of sharp confrontation with independent media: according to the Association, the authorities have conducted 67 searches of media houses and journalists’ apartments in the last two weeks.
There are 31 journalists in custody awaiting trial or serving a sentence.
Authorities froze the bank accounts of the Belarusian PEN Center, a writers’ association led by Svetlana Aleksijevic, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Literature, on Monday.
Aleksijevic, a member of the opposition Coordination Council, left Belarus last year after being brought in for questioning.
The Belarusian government began a sharp showdown with opponents after the presidential elections in August 2020, when mass anti-government protests broke out across the country. Protesters rebelled against the official election results, according to which the long-standing authoritarian head of state, Alexander Lukashenko, won convincingly.
More than 35,000 people have been arrested for participating in months of demonstrations, thousands of whom have been brutally beaten by police. Authorities also targeted journalists reporting on the protest.