Belarusian KGB Pursues Case Against 'Extremists'

The Belarusian KGB has filed a lawsuit against nine people in Hrodna, a city close to the Belarusian-Polish border, accusing them of possession of extremist materials.

Preliminary hearings were held in a district court in Hrodna on September 18, according to RFE/RL's Belarus Service. The lawsuit is expected to be heard in October.

The KGB built its case on articles published in a newspaper of the Polish minority in Belarus, "Voice From Over the Niemen [River] In Exile," a book titled "The Accidental President," and other printed and electronic materials seized by border guards in recent years.

In particular, the KGB alleges that "The Accidental President" suggests a plot to overthrow the government by unconstitutional means. According to the Belarusian chekists, the book should be declared extremist and all copies of it destroyed. (The book, published in 2003 by Belarusian journalists Pavel Sheremet and Svyatlana Kalinkina, is a highly unflattering account of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's life and career.)

In 2006, shortly before the presidential election, the KGB "discovered" another extremist plot in Belarus. An unidentified man, shown on national television, "confessed" that he had been trained -- presumably in the Caucasus, but Poland or Lithuania could not be ruled out either -- to poison the water system in Minsk with dead rats.

After the 2006 polls, however, won by Lukashenka in a landslide, the case of the dead rats was never pursued.

(by Jan Maksymiuk of RFE/RL's Belarus Service)



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