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Belarusian KGB adds creators of opposition Telegram channel ‘Nexta’ to terrorism list

The Belarusian State Security Committee (KGB) has added opposition blogger Stepan Putilo (Stsiapan Putsila), the creator of the Telegram channels Nexta and Nexta Live, and the platform’s former chief-editor Roman Protasevich to a list of individuals involved in terrorist activities.

In total, the terrorism list includes 726 individuals, but Putilo and Protasevich are the only Belarusian citizens on it, notes Sputnik Belarus.

Nexta Live posted a screenshot of the list, noting that Putilo and Protasevich were listed “right after several hundred Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans.”

Protasevich commented on the list on Twitter, saying “I’m officially recognized as a terrorist. No, this isn’t a joke […] Now my last name is on the same list as guys from ISIS.” 

“Throughout the entire existence of the regime, not a single opponent of Lukashenko has ever received such recognition!” he added in a second tweet.

In early November, the Belarusian Investigative Committee brought criminal charges against Putilo and Protasevich for allegedly organizing riots in Minsk and inciting hatred against government and police officials. In October, a Minsk court declared the Nexta Telegram channel and its logo “extremist materials.”

Nexta is the most well-known Belarusian opposition resource. It gained massive popularity amid the protests that emerged following the contested presidential elections on August 9. Nexta’s administrators run the platform out of Warsaw.