On March 26, Kastrychnitski district of Minsk completed hearing the case regarding the book Belarusian Donbas.
Its authors are Belsat journalists Ihar Ilyash and Katsyaryna Andreyeva. According to today’s court ruling, the book has been considered extremist.
Under the Belarusian law, the distribution of ‘extremist’ works is prohibited in the country; the access to the websites on which they were posted must also be blocked. At that, the content of information products included in the republican list of extremist materials is not subject to announcement. If found during searches, the publications deemed extremist may be confiscated and subsequently destroyed.
It should be recalled that journalist Raman Vasyukovich, who had the book on him, was detained at Minsk Airport in December. It was taken away and never returned. A protocol was drawn upon the media worker for ‘distribution or transportation of extremist items’, although the book was not declared ‘extremist’ then.
Belarusian Donbas was released by the Ukrainian publishing house Folio in the summer of 2020, but it was not until February that it was presented at the Embassy of Ukraine in Minsk. Only a few copies were handed over to Belarus, as they could have been seized by Belarusian customs officers. The event was timed to the 7th anniversary of the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity. Unfortunately, co-author Katsyaryna Andreyeva could not attend the presentation as she has been behind bars since mid November. In February, she was sentenced to two years of imprisonment for covering the crackdown on peaceful protesters in Minsk
The book is a journalistic investigation about Belarusians at war, the role of special services and personally Alyaksandr Lukashenka, as well as how this conflict affected Belarus.
“We have tried to cover all the points of intersection of this conflict and Belarus: from the participation of Belarusian citizens in the hostilities to the role of special services in this process, from illegal trade with Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ to the work of volunteers, from the political situation to the information strategy of the authorities,” Katsyaryna Andreyeva said in June.