Belarusian authorities said they had banned European news network Euronews from broadcasting, in a move denounced by critics of President Alexander Lukashenko as a new act of censorship.

The ministry of information said in a statement that it "had excluded Euronews" from a list of foreign media with the right to broadcast in the country.

The ministry said that the channel, headquartered in the French city of Lyon, would be replaced by Russian programming dedicated to World War II.

A ministry spokeswoman told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti that Euronews's broadcasting license had not been renewed because the channel violated legislation by running advertisements in English, instead of Russian or Belarusian.

Prominent Belarusian rights activist Ales Bialiatski said the decision was part of efforts to cut off the country from independent media.

"Belarus will find itself in an information blockade, that's what the regime needs," said the head of Viasna rights group.

Belarusian journalist and political analyst Hanna Liubakova said on Twitter: "Luckily, internet penetration is very high in the country, but it is clearly an attempt to limit access to information."

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Belarus was gripped by months of unprecedented anti-government demonstrations that erupted after a disputed presidential election last August saw Mr Lukashenko claim a sixth term in office.

Belarusian security forces unleashed a harsh crackdown against the protests, detaining demonstrators and pushing opposition leaders into exile.

A campaign to muzzle independent media followed, with some journalists receiving prison terms.