The chief editor of a preferred Web information web site in one in every of Belarus’ largest cities was detained Sunday amid a crackdown on unbiased journalists and opponents of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Police mentioned they have been investigating Hrodna.life editor Aliaksei Shota on suspicion of extremism.
The publication focuses on Belarus’ fifth-largest metropolis, Grodno. Metropolis police mentioned the web site “posted info merchandise that have been duly acknowledged as extremist,” however didn’t give particulars. It wasn’t instantly clear if Shota had been formally charged with extremism, which may carry a jail sentence of as much as 10 years.
Shota had collaborated with the nation’s hottest web portal Tut.by, which authorities closed this month after arresting 15 workers.
Belarus’ crackdown escalated per week in the past with the arrest of dissident journalist Roman Pratasevich and his girlfriend who have been aboard a business flight that was diverted to the Minsk airport due to an alleged bomb menace. The flight was flying over Belarus en route from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania.
The transfer sparked extensive denunciation within the West as an act of hijacking and calls for for Pratasevich’s launch. The European Union banned flights from Belarus.
Pratasevich is charged with organizing riots, a cost that carries a possible sentence of 15 years.
The day after his arrest, authorities launched a short video by which Pratasevich mentioned he was confessing, however observers mentioned the assertion gave the impression to be compelled.
The Belarusian human rights group Viasna mentioned Sunday that Pratasevich had acquired a package deal from his sister however that an unspecified e-book had been taken from it.
Giant protests broke out final August after a presidential election that officers mentioned overwhelmingly gave a sixth time period in workplace to Lukashenko, who has persistently repressed opposition since coming to energy in 1994.
Police detained greater than 30,000 folks in the midst of the protests, which persevered for months. Though protests died down in the course of the winter, authorities have continued robust actions towards opposition supporters and unbiased journalists.