Belarus Designates Telegram Channel of Opposition Leader Tikhanovskaya as 'Extremist'

© REUTERS / Dado Ruvic/File PhotoMen pose with smartphones in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration November 18, 2015.
Men pose with smartphones in front of a screen showing the Telegram logo in this picture illustration November 18, 2015. - Sputnik International, 1920, 15.10.2021
MINSK (Sputnik) - An acccourt in Minsk recognized the Telegram channel of the Belarus opposition leader and ex-presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya as "extremist," the press service of the Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs told Sputnik.
"According to the materials of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption [GUBOPiK] of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Telegram channel 'Svetlana Tikhanovskaya' was recognized as extremist material by the Minsk Central District Court," the statement said.
As noted by the Directorate on Telegram, the storage of extremist materials, as well as subscription to the Telegram channels recognized as extremist, entails criminal liability.
On Thursday, the Belarusian government adopted a decree empowering the interior ministry to hunt down organizations and individuals involved in what are deemed extremist activities. The document went into effect on Friday.
This picture taken in Moscow on October 5, 2021 shows the US online social media and social networking service Facebook's logo (R), the US instant messaging software Whatsapp's logo (L) and the US social network Instagram's logo (C) on a smartphone screen.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.10.2021
Belarus Has Legal Framework to Designate Social Media Activity as 'Extremist'- Authorities
As the representative of the GUBOPiK explained in a video commentary, the document gives a start to the work of law enforcement officers on the legal recognition of groups of citizens carrying out activities considered extremist on social media as "extremist formations."
Belarus has been in a prolonged political crisis since incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko secured his sixth term in office in the August 2020 election. The opposition has not recognized the results, claiming that Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was the real winner. The dispute resulted in mass protests across the country, which declined by February.
Minsk has opened criminal cases against several opposition leaders and others on charges linked to anti-government rallies. Tikhanovskaya was included in the list of people involved in terrorist activities. She fled to Lithuania. Minsk is seeking her extradition, but Vilnius refuses. Tikhanovskaya runs an office in Lithuania and has initiated the creation of the opposition's Coordination Council in Belarus.
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