Belarus Declares Social Media Page Of Rights Organization ‘Extremist’

Belarus has declared a social media account of one of its oldest rights organizations “extremist” as the government of strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues its crackdown on dissent.

Crisis In Belarus

Read our ongoing coverage as Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka ramps up pressure on NGOs and independent media as part of a brutal crackdown against protesters and the opposition following an August 2020 election widely considered fraudulent.

A Belarusian court in Homel, a town 300 kilometers southeast of the capital, Minsk, ruled on December 30 that material published by Vyasna on its Telegram channel is extremist.

Vyasna, which was founded in 1996, documented Lukashenka’s brutal crackdown on the opposition following the disputed August 2020 presidential election, publishing data on the thousands of detentions as well as cases of torture.

Vyasna did not escape the postelection repression, with seven members of the organization currently behind bars.

The December 30 ruling opens the door to prosecuting subscribers of the channel as well.

Over the past year, Lukashenka’s government has declared about 300 Internet sites and online channels — the majority run by the opposition — as “extremist” as he seeks to quash any challenge to his 27-year rule.

Tens of thousands of Belarusian citizens took to the streets last year to demand Lukashenka step down following what the election, which they claim was rigged.

Belarus earlier this month added RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, known locally as Radio Svaboda, to its registry of extremist organizations.