Virtual Brest news editor fined for distributing ‘extremist material’ about disabled prisoner Hundar

The reason for the persecution was publishing the story of detention and imprisonment of Baranavichy resident Uladzimir Hundar, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports.

In July, Uladzimir Hundar, who had detained in the so called Autukhovich case, wrote to the family about the torture behind bars. Inha Stromskaya, the prisoner’s daughter, said that Uladzimir was not given any medication. The disabled man had previously suffered from a hypertensive crisis in the KGB jail.

Disabled prisoner Hundar tortured in jail, relatives say

Two months ago, Maskouski district court of Brest considered an administrative case on recognising an ‘information product’ by Virtual Brest website as extremist; the authorities referred to the publication about Uladzimir Hundar. As an illustration to the text, the editors used a photo of Hundar wearing clothes with national ornament. Suprisingly, the representatives of the notorious GUBAZiK/GUBOPiK claimed that the ornament contained a swastika and suggested that the court list the article as an extremist material.

Then the court upheld the claim and found the publication extremist, but unfortunately, Virtual Brest editor Andrey Kukharchyk’s misadventure continued. A few weeks later, a new administrative protocol was drawn up against him: he was charged under Part 2 of Art. 19.11 of the Code of Administrative Offences (‘distribution of information products included in the Republican List of Extremist Materials’). Again, the accusation was linked to the article containing a photo of Uladzimir Hundar.

Notably, the protocol was repeatedly sent back to the police for revision. But on August 19, Maskouski district court of Brest found Andrey Kukharchyk guilty, imposed a fine of 290 rubles on him and ruled to confiscate the computer equipment, with the help of which the defendant ‘had committed the offense by distributing the photo’.

According to Andrey Kukharchyk, the equipment concerned was seized from him during the search in July and has never been given back.

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