MINSK, October 17. /TASS/. A number Telegram channels and chats can soon be recognized as extremist groups and their administrators and users may face criminal liability, Vyacheslav Orlovsky, chief of the Belarusian interior ministry’s organized crime and corruption directorate, said on Sunday.
"In line with the Council of Ministers’ resolution a new judicial institution - that of extremist groups - comes into force," he said in an interview with the STV television channel. "An extremist group is an association of people, a group of citizens, who got united thanks Telegram resources. We are probing such resources, which will be recognized as extremist groups in the near future, actually, within days."
According to Orlovsky, founders, administrators and active users of such resources, whose reposts and other actions do harm to the country’s national security interests, will be brought to criminal responsibility. "That is why I call on all people to stay aloof from these all-round extremists, unsubscribe from these channels and spare themselves from any questions from law enforcement agencies," he said, adding that as many as 327 such channels and chats are maintained in Belarus.
As for Telegram channel founders who are staying outside Russia, the interior ministry official said that they wound be subject to criminal prosecution. "I am sure they won’t be able to stay there, abroad, forever. They will come back," he noted. "But let us not forget about those who help them both financially and organizationally from this country, from Belarus, who share information disinforming the population. That is why, we will work first of all against those who are in our country. And when time comes, we will ask questions to those who are now abroad."
Earlier, the Belarusian government passed a resolution on measures to counter extremism and rehabilitation of Nazism. Under the document, the interior ministry will compile lists of organizations, groups and persons involved in extremist activities.