The Belarusian authorities continue to persecute citizens for distributing materials the state consider ‘extremist’.
The probe into the case of Minsk resident Alyaksei Yasyukevich has been in progress for about a year. In 2015, the young man shared two videos (a short documentary about Victory Day and a musical video by a Russian rapper) on his social media profile. At that moment, the state had no concerns about the pieces. However, in 2018, Tsentralny District Court of Minsk found the videos extremist, and a criminal case was immediately initiated against Mr Yasyukevich who now may face up to five years in prison.
“I deleted my VKontakte page and these videos. I never posed as a fascist or Nazi; I stand against racism, against any form of discrimination, and the fact that I am charged with inciting hatred under Art. 130 of the Criminal Code came as a nasty surprise,” the man told Belsat.
According to human rights defenders, for the year to date, administrative action has been taken against four persons for allegedly spreading extremist materials; at least five persons have been arraigned on a criminal charge.
The list of ‘extremist’ materials is being constantly updated. In March, Slonim football fans’ Vkontakte profile and one abbreviation in the Belarusian language were added to the list. In fear of prosecution, Belsat TV cannot give their names on the air or website.
In November 2018, Hrodna-based Belsat TV contributor Ales Dzyanisau was found guilty of possessing and distributing ‘extremist’ materials. In March 2017, Dzyanisau reposted two videos from Belarusian anarchists’ web community to his own Vkontakte social network page. The videos featured anarchists’ participating in ‘non-parasite’ protests in Belarus in the spring of 2017.