Belarus police free Hrodna.life's editor-in-chief; his laptop, phone, HDDs seized amid home raid

Police free Shota / Screenshot from Facebook

Police free Shota / Screenshot from Facebook

Belarusian police have freed editor-in-chief of the Hrodna.life news portal Alexei Shota, 32, who was detained in the city of Grodno (Hrodna), Belarus, on Sunday, May 30, 2021.

The media outlet said on Facebook on the same day.

"He was released from the Leninsky District Department of Internal Affairs. They treated him 'well, with respect.' Nevertheless, before they collected his explanations, he had spent half an hour in a cell with a man who is a vagrant," it said.

"During the search at the house, they seized one laptop, one phone, three old hard drives, a red and white umbrella," it added.

Shota will have to pay a fine under Article 19.11 of Belarus' Criminal Administrative Code.

Read also Belarusian authorities detain another journalist

Half an hour after the release of Shota, law-enforcement agents came to journalist Irina Novik's apartment. "Irina is also involved in the 'extremist materials' case. Probably, there will be a raid on her house," Hrodna.life said.

Screenshot from Facebook's Hrodna.life account

Screenshot from Facebook's Hrodna.life account

Detention of Shota

On May 30, 2021, Alexei Shota, the editor-in-chief of Hrodna.life, was detained in Belarus. Belarus' authorities explained the cause behind his detention. They said they had "revealed the fact that the Hrodna.life website had posted information products that were duly designated as extremist ones."

This detention followed another notorious case when dissident journalist Roman Protasevich was arrested after a forced landing of a plane he was on board.

Arrest of NEXTA's ex-editor Roman Protasevich in Minsk

  • On May 23, 2021, Roman Protasevich, 26, a co-founder and former editor of the NEXTA channel on the messaging app Telegram, was arrested along with his girlfriend after his Ryanair flight had been forcedly landed at Minsk airport.
  • Soon, Belarus' KGB shared a video with the interrogation of the journalist. He appeared to have a small black spot on his forehead.
  • Protasevich is reportedly facing the death penalty in Belarus.
  • NEXTA is a Telegram channel that covers political events in Belarus, it helped mobilize recent protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
  • In November 2020, Protasevich and another co-founder of NEXTA Stepan Putilo, 22, were put on the wanted list; before that, a case had been opened against them for organizing mass riots in Belarus.

Translation: Akulenko Olena

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