Photoreporters at gunpoint

The State Security Committee (KGB) Department in Hrodna filed a lawsuit in court demanding to declare the contents of photobooks Belarus Press Photo- 2011 extremist. Referring to experts’ opinion, the KGB states that the photobook includes distorted and untrue pictures of Belarus’ political, economic and social life.

Yuliya Darashkevich, one of the organisers of the contest, posted a fragment of the letter on her Facebook. “I got a summons to Ashmiany court and a copy of the KGB’s complaint in which they ask to find the book extremist,” the photographer told Belsat TV.

“On the whole, the materials in the photobook reflect only negative sides of the Belarusians’ activities along with an author’s own suppositions and conclusions, which <…> compromises on honour and dignity of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus, deals a serious blow to the state authority, undermines foreign confidence in the power bodies,” it says.

The board that expertized the photobook included Vadzim Khilyuta, the HOC of the department of criminal law and criminology of Law Faculty at Hrodna University, Aksana Shulga, the HOC of foreign languages department at Hrodna University, Aliaksandr Bondar, assistant professor of Arts Faculty at Hrodna University, and Pavel Skrabko, the Head of Ideology Department in Hrodna Executive Committee. The latter can boast of experience of that kind: earlier he tried to find elements of libel on the Belarusian president and discrediting the country in Andrzej Poczobut’s articles.

In November 2012 Belarusian custom officers seized 41 copies of photobook Belarus Press Photo – 2011. On April 17, 2013 the court session in Ashmiany is to determine the future of the confiscated books.


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