Authorities label Viasna/Human rights in Belarus “extremist formation” Updated
UPDATE ON AUGUST 24, 2023: The Viasna Human Rights Center Viasna was recognized as an “extremist formation” by the decision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs on August 23. On August 24, it became known that about a hundred information resources and online accounts related to Viasna were added to the “List of organizations, formations, individual entrepreneurs related to extremist activities.” These include websites spring96.org and freeviasna.org, Telegram channels, Viasna social media pages, shared messenger and e-mail accounts for communication with human rights defenders, Viasna Patreon page, photo stock on flicr.com, as well as personal mail and Telegram accounts. The website of the international human rights organization frontlinedefenders.org containing information about Viasna has also been added to the list.
Media resources of Viasna Human Rights Center was declared an “extremist formation,” as reported on August 23 by pro-government online media. Viasna understands that the Ministry of Internal Affairs took this decision, but it has not yet been officially posted.
It is reported that a group of citizens, united under the name Viasna / Human rights in Belarus with all its branches (more than 30 resources in total) is recognized as an extremist formation “for organizing activities aimed at preparing attacks on the sovereignty and public security of the Republic of Belarus, discrediting and insulting officials.”
“Individuals involved in any transfer of information to representatives of “Viasna/Human rights in Belarus” are recognized as participants of the extremist formation and will be prosecuted under Articles 361-1 and 361-4 of the Criminal Code of Belarus that provides for up to seven years of imprisonment,” pro-government media posted.
Currently, five Viasna members remain behind bars: chairman Ales Bialiatski, deputy chairman Valiantsin Stefanovic, lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, Volunteer service coordinator Marfa Ryabkova, and volunteer Andrei Chapiuk.
UPD: Some wording has been amended in accordance with official information available, and the warning from pro-government media has been added.