Belarusians who subscribe to banned media outlets on social media will be recognised as “extremists” under a new law, The Moscow Times reported on Wednesday.
Belarusian authorities have labelled more than 100 Telegram channels “extremist” as part of a crackdown on independent media following last year’s disputed presidential elections, in which Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory.
The new decree, signed in early October, will “hold subscribers of extremist Telegram channels and chats criminally liable as members of an extremist group”, The Moscow Times quoted Belarus’ Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime as saying.
Subscribers could face up to seven years in prison.
Nexta, the largest independent Belarusian Telegram outlet that the government labelled “extremist”, called the decree “rubbish” – a means to intimidate people and reduce the number of independent media followers.