Belarus court recognizes stickers as extremist content

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Belarus court recognizes stickers as extremist content

The stickers branded by a Belarusian court as extremist President Alexander Lukashenko

A court in Minsk has recognized two sets of sticker packs for the popular Telegram messaging app as extremist information products, marking the first time such images have been branded as prohibited content in Belarus.

The stickers in question are the Luka and Sasha 3% animated sticker packs, which feature satirical images of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The court made a decision on July 25, but it only drew public attention on Friday after Belarusian authorities updated the Ministry of Information's website to list what is considered to be extremist content. The list includes books, newspapers, websites, certain social media accounts, Telegram channels and symbols, amongst others.

The Belarusian authorities branded several Telegram channels, such as Radio Liberty Belarus, as extremists, claiming they were responsible for spreading false information. Such channels contain blatant calls to commit certain illegal acts, incitements. The minister said that there were not only insinuations but also specific appeals. I believe that these kinds of extremist channels should not have an impact on young people, on an unformed psychology. The Belarusian Interior Ministry explained that Telegram channels can be recognized as both extremist material and extremist formation. If a channel is recognized as a formation, all of its followers could become criminal defendants.