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Belarusian Activist Must Pay For Evaluation Of 'Extremist' Text

Activist Alena Hnauk
BERASTSE, Belarus -- An activist in western Belarus was told by a court that she must pay some 6 million rubles ($685) for an evaluation that could exonerate her of charges of extremism, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
A court in the city of Berastse ruled that defendant Alena Hnauk -- who is charged with circulating extremist ideas in a brochure titled "Personal Thoughts, or A Christian's Statement" -- must pay for an evaluation of the brochure.
Judge Uladzimer Shalamitski ruled that experts from the Institute of Philosophy of the Belarusian Academy of Sciences should conduct a special evaluation of the brochure's text to determine whether or not it is of an extremist nature. That evaluation will cost 6 million rubles, which Hnauk must pay herself.
"In the event that the study finds there is no extremist meaning in the brochure's content, Hnauk's expenditures will be reimbursed," Shalamitski said. "But if the study finds that there is extremist content in the brochure, the money will not be reimbursed."
He added that in the event that Hnauk fails to raise the required sum to pay for the evaluation, the court will rely on the conclusion by Berastse State University experts that said Hnauk's brochure contains "extremist elements."
The 200 copies of the brochure were printed by the "Tell the Truth!" campaign led by former presidential candidate and prominent opposition politician Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu.
In a discussion of the current social, economic, and political situation in Belarus, Hnauk called on authorities and the opposition to find ways to solve the problems the country faces.
Hnauk told RFE/RL "it is ridiculous that I have to pay that huge amount of money just to prove that I am innocent. That amount is an incredibly large sum for me."

Read more in Belarusian here