Authorities include 2011 Belarus Press Photo book in “National List of Extremist Material”

2013 2013-07-19T19:57:54+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

A book featuring the best pictures selected for the 2011 Belarus Press Photo contest has been included in the “National List of Extremist Material.”

The list of “extremist” books, periodicals and compact discs was published by the government-controlled newspaper Respublika on Wednesday. The newspaper did not explain why they had been blacklisted.

Forty-one copies of the 2011 Belarus Press Photo book were seized from Vadzim Zamirowski, Yuliya Darashkevich and Alyaksandr Vasyukovich, co-organizers of the contest, in November 2012 when they were returning from Lithuania.

The Ashmyany Customhouse subsequently told Mr. Vasyukovich that the book had been classified as "illegal printed material subject to destruction" because it did not meet state imprint data requirements. In January 2013, customs officers notified the Belarusian Association of Journalists that the book had been sent to the Committee for State Security (KGB).

The book was found to be extremist by a commission that consisted of Pavel Skrabko, head of the Hrodna regional ideology department, and three professors of Hrodna State University. They examined the book at the KGB’s request.

According to the experts, the book "contains deliberately distorted and false insinuations about life in the Republic of Belarus in the political, economic, social and other spheres that insult the national honor and dignity of the citizens of the Republic of Belarus."

"The selection of the material in the photo book reflects only negative aspects of the life of the Belarusian people with the author’s personal insinuations and conclusions," the commission said in its report.
The book damages the reputation of the Belarusian authorities and undermines the confidence of other countries as well as foreign and international organizations in them, the commission said.
On April 18, Judge Alyaksandr Davydaw of the Ashmyany District Court declared the book to be "extremist material" subject to destruction and ordered Ms. Darashkevich and Messrs. Zamirowski and Vasyukovich to pay 217,500 rubels ($25) each in litigation costs.

On June 24, a judge of the the Hrodna Regional Court rejected their appeals.