The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus announced the recognition of the materials of the website and pages in social networks of the Polish TV channel Belsat as extremist. “This decision was made on July 27 by the court of the Zheleznodorozhny district of Gomel. The grounds for this were the materials of the inspection of the GUBOPiK department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Gomel region,” the press service of the Belarusian ministry said on the same day.
At the same time, the Ministry of Internal Affairs reminded of the administrative responsibility for the dissemination (repost) of information from sources recognized as extremist with a penalty in the form of a fine or arrest.
Belsat promised to continue working
In turn, the deputy director of “Belsat” Aleksey Dzikavitskiy pointed out that the decision of the Gomel court “can hardly be called legitimate” because of “a complete legal default in Belarus.” “There is no point in appealing against him. Belsat will continue to work, we will continue to deliver independent information in the Belarusian language without censorship to our esteemed viewers and readers. And no court will forbid us to do so,” he said.
The TV channel also reminded that subscribing to and reading Belsat’s materials in social networks and on the website does not constitute the dissemination of extremist information. “Repost – yes. Subscription and reading – no. For distribution – administrative responsibility”, – stated in the statement.
Searches of Belsat journalists
In mid-July, a wave of searches of journalists, media and human rights activists took place in Belarus. Among others, the security officials came to Belsat journalists Pavel Mozheiko, Anna Galeta, Galina Abakunchik, Kristina Chernyavskaya, Alexey Kairis, the host of the Every One of Us program and the founder of Mova Nanov courses Gleb Lobodenko, Gomel TV correspondent Yevgeny Merkis, Igor Ilyash … Galeta and Ilyash were detained and released a few days later. Ilyash’s wife, journalist Yekaterina Andreeva, was convicted of streaming from the protest action.
The European Union condemned the searches in Belarus and threatened to consider the introduction of new restrictive measures against the Lukashenka regime. “The new wave of repression is further evidence that the Lukashenka regime is waging a systematic and well-planned campaign with the ultimate goal of drowning out all remaining dissident voices and suppressing civil society in Belarus,” EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said.
The Belarusian-language satellite TV channel Belsat was created by the Polish Foreign Ministry and the Polish Public Television and began broadcasting in 2007. The TV channel is not accredited in Belarus.