Telegram channel administrator to face trial as head of extremist formation

According to the official website of the Investigative Committee, a 20-year-old native of Hrodna is accused of administering a Telegram channel, recognized by the police as an extremist formation. The name of the young man was not disclosed, as well as the Telegram channel he’d managed. The guy faces up to seven years in prison.

The 20-year-old Telegram channel administrator will be tried as the head of an extremist formation.

According to the Investigative Committee in Minsk, “from August 2020 to March 2021 he administered one of the largest Telegram channels, recognized as an extremist formation in the Republic of Belarus, and a chat room, uniting students of a specialized department of a university in the country.”

The prosecution claims that the young man “was in charge of an extremist community, formed its composition, distributed roles, controlled the information content of the resource and organized the participation of its members in protests. He allegedly “taught people how to disobey the legitimate demands of law enforcement officers, persuaded to commit specific unlawful acts and distributed information about the gathering place of the chat room participants” and also “took measures to consolidate and increase the number of the community members — he supported them morally in private conversations, organized joint leisure activities, including joint distribution of extremist materials and protest symbols, forming the willingness and desire to participate in unlawful acts <…>, he also prompted a protest mood in the citizens.”

The young man is also accused of ignoring the demands of the police, disrupting public order, and shouting protest slogans, as well as of intentionally blocking transport communications on October 25 last year in Minsk. He had a flag with him, which he used as a protest symbol.

The Hrodna dweller will be prosecuted under two articles of the Criminal Code of Belarus: part 1, 2 of article 342 – “Organization of group actions that grossly violate public order” and part 1 of article 361-1 – “Leadership of an extremist formation.” Under the second article, he faces up to seven years in prison.

The man is in custody. The case materials have been transferred to the prosecutor for referral to court.