Lukashenko threatens Russian media in Minsk

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Belarus President Alexender Lukashenko said Friday he was prepared to expell some Russian media outlets in Minsk for their negative coverage of the former Soviet republic's economic crisis.

"There is more hysteria in the Russian media than any other," the authoritarian leader told a government meeting devoted to the country's raging currency crisis.

"I have also been following 'our' foreign media who are here thanks to the presidential administration and have become the dominant ones," Lukashenko said in apparent reference to Russian newpapers with local offices.

"Do everything to make sure that these media are no longer present in our territory," Lukashenko was quoted by his press-service as saying.

Lukashenko said the negative media reports helped prompt panic buying among Belarussians who feared an imminent currency devaluation.

Belarus devalued its currency by more than one third earlier this week as it seeks to save its shrinking state reserves in advance of a hoped-for rescue loan from Russia and other former Soviet republics.

© 2011 AFP

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