Armed police storm homes over social media comments (VIDEO)
Officers in Belarus have arrested eleven people accused of making offensive comments about the deaths of Russian paratroopers in a training accident earlier this month, Minsk's Ministry of Internal Affairs announced on Wednesday.
Video of one of the arrests shows a group of at least four special forces members entering an apartment in the capital armed with rifles and military gear. They shine their flashlights through the doorway at the eventual detainee, an IT worker caught seemingly by surprise.
According to the Belarusian authorities, the 11 people arrested had made comments on social media joking about the deaths. The soldiers had been conducting joint exercises with the Belarusian armed forces.
They also said that many of them were subscribed to “extremist Telegram channels,” referring to the messaging app. The Belarusian government has deemed almost all major opposition news outlets to be against the law in the wake of the protests that followed last year’s disputed presidential election.
Officials added that they had found more than 50 people who had made “blasphemous and insulting” comments about the tragedy on social media. Those arrested could face up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
On November 12, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the deaths of the two paratroopers during joint training with Belarusian forces in the city of Grodno, in western Belarus. The Ministry said the tragic accident happened because of a “sudden strong wind” and that one had tried to save his comrade using his reserve parachute.