Minsker posts film about Lukashenka on social networks, gets police attention

The police have invited a citizen of Minsk for a conversation. In October 2019 he posted the film “Lukashenka. Criminal cases” produced by the blogger NEXTA on his VK page, reports the human rights center Viasna.

The 19-year-old Andrei Mikhalevich posted the film “Lukashenka. Criminal Cases” on his VK.com page on October 28, 2019. According to the Central District Court decision, the film was included in the list of extremist materials only on December 7, 2019.

Andrei Mikhalevich. The photo provided for spring96.org.

However, on Friday 15th May, Andrei received a call from the police who invited him for a conversation. The policeman explained to the young man the inadmissibility of such information dissemination and warned him about a possible fine of 50 basic units (540 BYN) or administrative arrest.

Shutting people up with persecution

Aliaksey Loika, lawyer of the Human Rights Centre Viasna, says that the police are showing interest in this repost now for a reason.

“We’ve entered a turbulent period, when the authorities are putting pressure on almost everyone who openly expresses their disagreement. On the eve of the election, it seems to the authorities that the only effective way to shut people up is to persecute them,” he said.

In practice, compliance with the law “On Counteracting Extremism” does not meet its goals, Loika said.

“On paper, the law should protect public relations so that there are no terrorist organisations. But in practice, the law is used to prosecute dissenters”, he said.

The case of an administrative offence under Article 17.11 (“Dissemination of information calling for extremism”) will soon be brought to court.

This is not the only case when the authorities punish the distribution of the film by blogger NEXTA. In April, a resident of Homel was fined 405 BYN.

The documentary film by blogger NEXTA “Lukashenka. Criminal Cases” was released on October 26th. It tells about the main events of Lukashenka’s rule. The film very soon occupied the first place in the trends of the Belarusian YouTube.