KYIV, Ukraine — Belarusian authorities said Tuesday that an independent media outlet that has extensively covered over seven weeks of protests against the country's authoritarian president will have its media credentials suspended for three months.

Tut.by, the most popular news site in Belarus, is suspended from operating as a media outlet starting Thursday until Dec. 30, the Ministry of Information said in a statement.

In announcing its decision, the ministry cited a court ruling against Tut.by following four warnings given to the news outlet for publishing "information, the spread of which is prohibited." The statement did not give details about what kind of prohibited information Tut.by allegedly published.

Tut.by said in a statement that it intended to continue operating albeit "without the status of a media outlet."

"Registering internet resources as online media outlets in Belarus is voluntary," Tut.by said. "Status of a media outlet gives some advantages, such as the opportunity to be present..in areas of military conflicts or emergency situations, at mass events, at other events of public importance."

The site's team said Tut,by registered as a media outlet in January 2019 and before then had operated without media credentials sincethe site's founding in 2000. Nevertheless, Tut.by plans to contest the decision in court next week.

The announcement came as mass protests against President Alexander Lukashenko's election to a sixth term in balloting that the political opposition says was rigged continued to rock Belarus.

Regular anti-government rallies that broke out the night of the Aug. 9 election have continued for over seven weeks, representing the biggest challenge yet to Lukashenko's 26-year hardline tenure.

"It's clear that (the authorities) want to bar journalists of the most popular online outlet from covering the protests in the country," Boris Goretsky, vice president of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, said.

Other journalists in Belarus have been threatened, jailed or deported from the country, Goretsky told The Associated Press.

Both opposition members and some poll workers say the official election results that gave Lukashenko 80% of the vote were falsified. The United States and the European Union have condemned the election as neither free nor fair, and Britain and Canada on Tuesday imposed sanctions on the Belarusian leader, his son and other government officials over the crackdown on dissent that has come with the ongoing protests.

Since presidential campaigning started in Belarus this year, 207 journalists have been detained, according to the Belarusian Associated of Journalists. Eleven reporters are currently behind bars, sentenced to 3-15-day arrests on charges of participating in unauthorized protests.

Opposition's Coordination Council set up to push for a transition of power called the suspension of Tut.by "absolutely outrageous and unlawful in its essence."

Lukashenko's main election opponent, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who went into exile in Lithuania after the election, referred to it as "stripping Belarusian people of their right to the truth."

"Esteemed journalists, you are heroes," Tsikhanouskaya said in a statement Tuesday. "You know that the truth is on your side, and the truth can't be cut off, like they're trying to cut off access to the Internet and your outlets."