Belarussian newspaper faces closure for publishing cartoons

Minsk, Belarus - The Belarussian Information Ministry has said it plans to suspend the release of the newspaper Zgoda for three months for republishing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, which were earlier published in a number of Western media outlets.

"We intend to suspend the newspaper for three months and go to court to seek its closure," Information Minister Vladimir Rusakevich told Interfax.

"The newspaper has committed suicide," an Information Ministry source told Interfax on Wednesday. "Attempts to provoke the government and rock the boat of religious or inter-denominational stability won't work in Belarus," he said.

It was reported earlier that the Belarussian State Security Committee (KGB) opened a criminal case into the publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in the Zgoda on charges of "the fuelling of racial, ethnic, or religious hatred or discord."

The criminal case was opened following an inquiry conducted by the national prosecution authorities together with the KGB on the basis of a request by the Committee for Religious and Ethnic Affairs and local Muslim communities.

All the documents related to the criminal case have been forwarded to the KGB, the prosecutor's office said.