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  • Blogger Aliaksandr Ihnatsiuk to be tried on March 15. Extremist charges dropped, while new accusations appear

    Blog­ger Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk. Video screen­shot

    The tri­al for Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk’s case will com­mence on March 15th at 10:00 AM in the Stolin Dis­trict Court. He is fac­ing charges under three arti­cles of the Crim­i­nal Code. Judge Siarhei Nase­nia will pre­side over the tri­al.

    Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk, a for­mer jour­nal­ist and blog­ger, has been charged with:

    • libel against the Pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of Belarus com­mit­ted by a per­son who has already been tried for libel or insult;
    • orga­ni­za­tion and prepa­ra­tion of actions that gross­ly vio­late pub­lic order or active par­tic­i­pa­tion in them;
    • extor­tion com­mit­ted repeat­ed­ly, by a group of per­sons by pri­or con­spir­a­cy, or with the use of non-life-threat­en­ing vio­lence, or under threat of mur­der or seri­ous bod­i­ly harm, or in com­bi­na­tion with destruc­tion or dam­age to prop­er­ty, or with the aim of obtain­ing a large-scale prop­er­ty ben­e­fit.

    The max­i­mum penal­ty for this charge is 10 years in prison.

    The charge of pro­mot­ing extrem­ist activ­i­ties was dropped dur­ing the prepa­ra­tion of his case for tri­al.

    Accord­ing to a post on the offi­cial Telegram chan­nel of the Inte­ri­or Min­istry of Belarus, Ihnat­siuk pro­mot­ed the activ­i­ties of an extrem­ist Telegram chan­nel whose admin­is­tra­tors are abroad. The min­istry also accus­es him of sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly dis­cred­it­ing state bod­ies and attempt­ing to get a job at extrem­ist inter­net media out­lets.

    Addi­tion­al­ly, the accused alleged­ly made videos con­tain­ing dam­ag­ing infor­ma­tion about local busi­ness­men and extort­ed mon­ey from them, threat­en­ing to pub­lish these facts on the inter­net. Three res­i­dents of the Stolin dis­trict were affect­ed by the blogger’s activ­i­ties.

    Ihnat­siuk was arrest­ed on 18 July 2023. A month lat­er, the Belaru­sian human rights com­mu­ni­ty rec­og­nized him as a polit­i­cal pris­on­er.

    Blog­ger Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk.

    Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk pub­lished the inde­pen­dent region­al news­pa­per Vech­erniy Stolin and served as its edi­tor-in-chief in the late 1990s and ear­ly 2000s.

    In 2003, the news­pa­per was sus­pend­ed for three months by order of the then-Min­is­ter of Infor­ma­tion, Mikhail Pad­hainy, due to alleged vio­la­tions of the Law on Press and Oth­er Mass Media.

    In Octo­ber 2003, Vech­erniy Stolin resumed pub­li­ca­tion. How­ev­er, in Decem­ber of the same year, the edi­tor, Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk, was found guilty of insult­ing Uladz­imir Pashke­vich, the for­mer chair­man of the Stolin Dis­trict Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee. As a result, Ihnat­siuk was fined $230 under Arti­cle 369 of the Crim­i­nal Code.

    In Feb­ru­ary 2004, Ihnat­siuk received a warn­ing and anoth­er order to sus­pend the pub­li­ca­tion for three months by mail for alleged vio­la­tions of the mass media law.

    The edi­to­r­i­al office was crit­i­cized for hav­ing adver­tis­ing mate­ri­als that exceed­ed 30% of the issue vol­ume, despite not being reg­is­tered as a spe­cial­ized mass media for adver­tis­ing mes­sages and mate­ri­als.

    The news­pa­per faced a sec­ond law­suit due to changes in the publication’s theme and lan­guage with­out noti­fy­ing the reg­is­tra­tion author­i­ty in writ­ing. The warn­ing stat­ed that the news­pa­per had shift­ed its focus from busi­ness and leisure top­ics to mass pol­i­tics and had switched from using both Russ­ian and Belaru­sian lan­guages to only using Russ­ian.

    As a result, the news­pa­per Vech­erniy Stolin was nev­er pub­lished again. Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk cre­at­ed the web­site Pro Stolin and worked as a free­lance jour­nal­ist. He also engaged in blog­ging, mak­ing videos that he post­ed on the web­site, Tik­Tok, YouTube, and Insta­gram.

    On Feb­ru­ary 13th of this year, the Lenin­s­ki Dis­trict Court of Brest deemed the web­site stolin.bu and the per­son­al Vkon­tak­te page of the site’s edi­tor, Ali­ak­san­dr Ihnat­siuk, as ‘extrem­ist’. Three days lat­er, on Feb­ru­ary 16th, the same court reaf­firmed the Stolin website’s ‘extrem­ist’ sta­tus.

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