Vitsebsk: journalists are interrogated in criminal case on threat letters from Russian neo-Nazi

2008 2008-08-07T19:37:48+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en

On 7 August an independent journalist Aliona Stsiapanava was summonsed to the KGB and interrogated as a witness on a criminal case that had been brought on threat letters sent by activists of an unregistered Russian neo-Nazi organization RNE (Russian National Unity). The investigator asked Stsiapanava where and when she had seen such letters and what human rights organizations she knew.

In the recent years threat letters on behalf of the RNE have been sent to members of the Conservative Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front, the editorial office of Vitsebski Kuryier M and the Belarusian-language theater Lialka.

The demands stated in these letters were mainly antinational and anti-Semitic and concerned the use of the Belarusian language. The addressees were threatened with lynching for their activities. Unknown persons beat the son of the CCP BPF member Yan Dziarzhautsau and the brother of another member of the party Barys Khamaida. Dziarzhautsau and Khamaida think that it was done by RNE members to intimidate public activists.

At first Vitsebsk officials were reluctant to bring a criminal case on these facts. The procuracy and the KGB answered that this organization was unregistered and therefore could not exist on the territory of Belarus. Finally, thanks to the effort of human rights activists, the criminal case was brought. But after interrogation of the victims and a search in the apartment of the human rights activist Leanid Svetsik he was made the main suspect in the case.

Aliona Stsiapanava is not the only journalist interrogated on this case. A telephone invitation to the KGB has been also received by an independent journalist Vadzim Barshcheuski.