According to Minsk Regional Expert Commission for the Evaluation of Information Products, Belarusian National Idea, a book by journalist Zmitser Lukashuk and philosopher Maxim Goryunov, has ‘signs of demonstrating extremism’.
The conclusion which was made on March 4 might result in a court’s declaring the book extremist and ban it in the territory of Belarus. The exact date of the hearing is not yet known.
Belarusian National Idea was published in 2020. The book includes 85 interviews aired as part of Idea X program on European Radio for Belarus. Talking to prominent Belarusians (philosophers, politicians, public figures, creative thinkers) Zmitser Lukashuk and Maxim Goryunov were trying to find out what national idea Belarusians have and whether it exists at all.
Despite the fact that the book has not been added to the republican list of extremist materials yet, people have started to be persecuted for having and keeping it. Back in February, the police found a copy of Belarusian National Idea in the flat of a 24-year-old resident of Zhdanovichy. Notably, he had bought it in Akademkniha, a state-run book shop in Minsk. On March 31, the young man was summoned to the police and then to court for violating Article 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offences (‘distribution, production, storage, transportation of information products containing calls to extremist activities or promoting such activities’).
On March 26, Kastrychnitski district of Minsk ruled that the book Belarusian Donbas by Belsat journalists Ihar Ilyash and Katsyaryna Andreyeva. Would be counsidered as ‘extremist’ in Belarus. If found during searches, the publications deemed extremist may be confiscated and subsequently destroyed.