Searched flat over ‘insulting Lukashenka’. 19-year-old blogger may face criminal case

On February 22, the Minsk police searched the flat of a popular Belarusian videoblogger as part of the investigation of the criminal case under Art. 386 (‘insulting the president’).

19-year-old Stsyapan Svyatlou [Svyatlou is an alias] has been vlogging about social and political life in Belarus on NEXTA Youtube channel, which has over 100,000 subscribers.

At the moment Stsyapan is abroad, he is a student of one of Poland’s universities.

“On Thursday evening two men – one in the uniform of the Investigative Committee, another in civvies – came to our place, my mother was at home. They failed to name their names or show their ID cards. They had a search warrant and said that some woman reported disparaging remarks about the president that had been allegedly voiced on my Youtube channel,” Stsyapan said.

According to the blogger, the law enforcement officers seized his laptop and small video camera and drew up a search protocol. However, they did not give any copies of documents to his mother. It is still not known whether the criminal case has been already opened against him.

Stsyapan jumped the two feet into political vlogging in April 2017, in the wake of Belarusians’ protesting against the so-called parasite decree. The man started with short news videos. Almost every piece on his Youtube channel has criticism against Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Stsyapan often uses videos by independent media, particularly Belsat TV, to which he contributes.

“I do not know where they found any insult? Other bloggers are often much more critical about him. Besides, I have never been engaged in politics, I am not an activist, I have not been persecuted. I think this kind of pressure has been caused by the growing number of my viewers: they [authorities] just want to stop me,” the Belsat contributor believes.

Indeed, over 100,000 people have subscribed to the Youtube channel, which is quite a strong performance among Belarusian bloggers. In his opinion, the regime might have disliked one of the latest videos. It is about the crime which was reportedly solved singlehandedly by president Lukashenka ‘overnight’, without the help of law enforcers.

Yuliya Hancharova, a representative of the Investigative Committee, asked to wait for further information and comments on the situation till Monday.