volkovysk.by website and online community declared extremist formation

01.02.2023 Source: Служба маніторынгу Беларускай асацыяцыі журналістаў

January 24, the State Security Committee included the volkovysk.by site and affiliated social media pages in the list of extremist formations.

"A group of individuals united through social media, messengers, and other Internet resources affiliated with the volkovysk.by website undertakes extremist activity," reads the Interior Ministry's communication. Apart from the social media pages of the media outlet, the list includes personal pages of editors Ales Zaitsau and Aliaksandr Tarantsei.

Article 361-1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code punishes founders, leaders, members and sponsors of extremist formations with prison terms ranging from 6 to 10 years.

Volkovysk.by is a media focused on the town and district of Vaukavysk and run by volunteer authors at their own expense.

"For 13 years, volkovysk.by has been the only independent media covering events in our town. All this time, we were opposed by the state machine with its ideologists and local newspaper editors who were never able to compete with us in terms of reach. Unlike them, we never received a penny from the budget. We also never applied for any grants, we just love our town and produce veritable content sacrifising our time and money," the editorial team said in their statement.

The site was moved to a new domain volkovysk.eu and new social pages will be created.

The authorities have already recognized multiple Belarusian independent media, including BelaPAN, Nasha Niva, Euroradio, Belsat, Zerkalo, Grodno.Life and Flagshtok, as "extremist formations."