Znadniemna.pl, the website of the Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), has been blocked upon a decision of the Ministry of Information.
When one attempts to open a website in the territory Belarus, they are notified that access to the information resource is restricted by the Ministry of Information. However, the site is accessible via VPN.
On December 30, the Belarusian authorities recognised the information products by Znadniemna.pl as ‘extremist materials’. The corresponding decision was taken by Leninski district court of Brest.
Earlier this year, the websites of Belsat, TUT.by, Tribuna, reform.by, Deutsche Welle, Novy Chas, Current Time and others were declared ‘extremist’. It should be noted that the words ‘extremism’ and ‘destructive activity’ are now used by the Lukashenka regime to condemn any manifestation of dissent and protest moods. Thus, anyone who shares news of the ‘extremist’ portals or even a photo with their logo in social networks or even private messages may be punished. Moreover, the Belarusian security officers interpret the law so that they also punish for posts and messages made before the recognition of materials as ‘extremist’. Under Article 19.11, a fine from 290 to 870 rubles may be imposed on the defendant, as well as administrative arrest and confiscation of equipment which is recognised as ‘means for committing a crime’.
Previously, the regime ordered to liquidate the UBP.
Andżelika Borys, Chairperson of the Union of Poles in Belarus, and Andrzej Poczobut, a Hrodna-based journalist and Polish minority activist, have been behind bars for over nine months. They are accused of ‘inciting hostility’. The two arrestees refused to file a pardon petition to Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The Belarusian human rights community declared them political prisoners.
In the spring of 2021, the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office initiated a criminal case against Andżelika Borys and other members of the Union of Poles in Belarus. They are charged under Art. 130-3 of the Criminal Code (‘deliberate actions aimed at inciting national and religious hatred according to national, religious, language, other social affiliation, as well as through justifying Nazism, which were committed by a group of persons’). According to them, the Polish activists’ aсtivity, i.e. holding some events, is relevant to ‘the rehabilitation of Nazism and justifying the genocide of the Belarusian people’.
In early June, Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that three Polish minority activists from Belarus – Irena Biernacka, Maria Tiszkowska and Anna Paniszewa – arrived in Poland on May 25 ‘as a result of efforts by Polish diplomatic and consular services’. According to our information, the Belarusian authorities made the three women’s return to the country impossible by imposing travel restrictions on them before taking the arrestees to the Belarusian-Polish border.