Belarus imposes mass IP-blocks to prevent panic

Belarus has closed a number of internet sites and online stores in an attempt to curb mass panic that could occur in that east European country.

Following the sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU, Russian currency the Ruble massively dropped in value, dragging the Belarussian currency with it as well.

Panic grew among the population of the country, with people flooding to banks and shops to try and secure their savings.

BelaPAN, the news company running popular independent news websites Belapan.by and Naviny.by, announced on Sunday that the sites were blocked on Saturday without warning.

"Clearly the decision to block the IP addresses could only be taken by the authorities because in Belarus the government has a monopoly on providing IPs," it said.

Also blocked are Charter97.by, BelarusPartisan.org, Udf.by and others with an independent news outlook.

The block was imposed on 19 December, when the government learned that all purchases of foreign currency will be taxed at 30 per cent.

"Looks like the authorities want to turn light panic over the fall of the Belarussian ruble into a real one," Belarus Partisan website wrote, calling the blockages "December insanity."

A total of 13 online stores were blocked on Saturday, after raising their prices or displaying them in USD, said trade minister Irina Narkevich, Bankok Post reports.

The country’s currency, the Belarussian ruble, being heavily dependent on its giant neighbour Russia, has lost about half of its value since the beginning of 2014.