Books by Paznyak on trial in Brest

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This was the beginning of fascism in Germany. This is what the Belarusian authorities are adopting. In the dock are books. The issue under review is the extremism in the publications of the famous opposition leader Zyanon Pazniak. Before this was a trial in Minsk, today – in Brest. Companions of the politician attempted to appeal the previous decision of the expert committee. However, the court also has its experts and its own truth.

Five months of struggle. Trials in Minsk and Brest. The latets trial was not a surprise. The court of Leninski district of Brest, represented by Alena Kavalchuk supported the conclusion of the expert committee, which previously recognized books by Zyanon Pazniak as extremist.

“This is a purely political matter. First time in a pure form.  Because on trial was the political assessment of the leader of the Belarusian opposition,” said Yuras Belenki from Conservative Christian Party – BPF.

Among those who gave expert evaluation of the content of publications by Zyanon Pazniak were representatives of the pro-government republican public association “Belaya Rus”. Companions of the chairman of the Conservative Christian Party BPF are outraged.

“Expert opinion is provided by the ideologues and friends of the Belaya Rus, rather than historians, art historians and lawyers. If they were normal lawyers, from the very beginning, they would not have engaged in this business,” said Ales Chakholsky, Conservative Christian Party – BPF.

Which books by Zyanon Pazniak are considered as extremist? The black list includes two publication of the opposition politician: “The protection of Kurapaty. People’s Memorial” and the “Good photography”. The painful pages of the history of the Belarusians, as well as the struggle for revival. These very points were not to the liking of the commission. The author himself is convinced of it.

“What’s the extremist element in the world photography? It is the history of photography, which has been printed everywhere millions of times. Same with Kurapaty. This is an absolutely impudent trick of the occupying forces. The people who killed our people, who shot people in Kurapaty want to blame the people who were killed, and the people who exposed this,” said the outraged Zyanon Pazniak, leader of the Conservative Christian Party – BPF.

The incident around the books by Pazniak began in September 2015. At the time, on the Belarusian-Polish border, customs officials confiscated several copies of publications from the secretary of the Conservative Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front Ales Chakholsky. One of the trials took place in December last year.

The Brest Customs filed a document to recognize Pazniak’s literature as extremist. The trial then was delayed, since Alexander Cheholsky made a formal complaint about the results of the expert committee. This court decision could mean that these books by Zyanon Pazniak will now be prohibited.

“This was the beginning of Hitler’s fascism. The ban on the books, the opposition of different political groups, social groups, ethnic groups,” said Yuri Belenki.

Besides, the history of the so-called book extremism in Belarus is quite rich. Over the past three years, there were about a dozen of reported cases of publications seized at the border crossings. The Ashmyany Customs seized about forty copies of the photo album “Belarus Press Photo 2011”.

Images that reflect the daily life of the Belarusians were recognized as extremist. Later, the book by human rights defenders and then political prisoner Ales Bialiatski called “Enlightened by Belarusian spirit” fell out of officials’ favor. The special commission recognized that the content of the publication, which partly originated in prison, could damage the image of Belarus. The list is long.

Ian Babitski, Belsat

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