The Investigative Committee have initiated criminal cases under article 130 (inciting hatred) against Yury Paulavets and Dzmitry Alimkin, the official statement confirms on December 8.
The criminal cases have been initiated upon the application of the Information Ministry, with the assessment of the blogs by the National Expert Commission on Extremism. The articles concerned were published on websites Regnum, Lenta.ru, EADaily and authored by Yury Paulavets (pennames Mikalay Radau and Pavel Yuryntsau) and Dzmitry Alimkin (penname Alla Bron).
The conclusion of the National Commission on Extremism states that the materials by the authors contain crime components falling under article 130 of the Criminal Code (inciting racial, national, religious or other social hatred).
The Investigative Committee held an inquiry and searches, which led to establishing the identities of the authors: Dmitry Alimkin is a resident of Brest, works as a guard, and Yury Paulavets is a resident of Minsk, works as a university teacher of political sciences. The Investigative Committee has found evidence that the authors received royalties from a citizen of Belarus who resides in Moscow; the Investigative Committee supposes that the authors acted from mercenary motives.
The authors were detained on December 5 – 6. The press service of the Investigative Committee reported that the ordering party of the articles was Regnum’s chief editor Yury Baranchyk.
Updated with comments
Nasha Niva reported that just before the detention, on December 1, the Minister of Information Liliya Ananich sent a letter to Shvydki M., Special Representative of the Russian President on international cultural cooperation, saying that there had been observed the rise of “tendentious”, “sometimes destructive” materials in the Russian media; “such materials, doubting sovereignty and territorial integrity of Belarus, had appeared earlier”; “there had been statements insulting Belarusian nation, history, language and culture”.
In an interview to the Euroradio, the chairperson of BAJ Andrei Bastunets noted that, judging from the articles mentioned in the letter, there is violation of freedom of speech of the detainees: “You can find certain violations of law and of journalist ethics, in some of these publications, not all of them. But I see no violations regarding the Criminal Code. We observe disproportionate encroachment of the state on the freedom of speech and freedom of opinion” (full interview here in Belarusian).