KGB of Belarus found 'extremist' content in earlier confiscated printed materials

Today, Kastrychnitski District Court of Grodno, Belarus, will start considering a case initiated by Grodno regional directorate of the Belarus State Security Committee (KGB) that asks the court to acknowledge a newspaper, some books, human rights newsletters and music CDs to be 'extremist materials', Belarusian Association of Journalists reports.

The exact list of "potential extremist materials" comprises an issue of a newspaper of Belarusian Poles Glos znad Niemna na Uchodzstwie, books Chronicles of Human Rights Violations in Belarus in 2004, Conspirator of Belarus, Letters from the Forest by Pavel Seviarynets, An Accidental President by Svetlana Kalinkina and Pavel Sheramet, printouts of The Basics of United Democratic Forces Strategy and Draft Resolution of Democratic Forces Congress, Svabodnaja Dumka newsletter, recordings of programs of Polish Radio and CDs with recording of Solidarity with Belarus concert.

These are the materials confiscated by cross border officers in Hrodna in 2005-2007 from different people who tried to cross state border of Belarus. All those people received summons to court. There are BAJ members Andrzej Pisalnik and Valery Shchukin among them.

Andrzej Pisalnik told BAJ Press Service a copy of Glos znad Niemna na Uchodzstwie newspaper was confiscated from him 16 February 2006 at Grodno railway station during a personal search. "2,5 years passed, and now we learn the KGB found some 'extremist' contents in the newspaper. It is difficult to say what article they mean, as I don't think there was something really sharp in that issue, although it was dedicated to the presidential elections. I cannot see any logics in such actions by KGB."

Svetlana Kalinkina, one of the authors of "An Accidental President" book, told BAJ Press Service that no expertise was conducted regarding thec confiscated printed matters.

The Law "On Counteraction to Extremism" came to force in Belarus in the beginning of 2007. According to the law, extremist materials are information products that contain calls for extremist activities, promote them or are regarded as extremist by a court decision.

Andrei Bastunets, Deputy Chairperson of BAJ, believes the Law "On Counteraction to Extremism" contains quite strict regulations on defining any activity or materials as "extremist". "According to Article 14 of the Law, extremist materials are to be destroyed. If the approach of the Belarusian KGB is applied, the majority of private libraries or photo collections should be set on fire, and half of the population of the country can be brought to court," Andrei Bastunets told BAJ Press Service.



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