Poland refuses extradition of Belarusian dissident blogger

Putilo is the founder of Nexta, a popular oppositionist online channel, which the Belarusian authorities have branded as extremist. Rafał Guz/PAP

A Warsaw district court on Wednesday ruled against the extradition to Belarus of Stepan Putilo, a dissident blogger accused by the Belarusian authorities of instigating a government coup.

Putilo, who has also been charged with sowing hatred and organising mass riots, has been granted asylum in Poland.

In a commentary to the ruling, the court said Putilo's extradition was not possible, as according to the EU Belarus had no legal government, was not a state in the common understanding of the term, and was ruled by a "criminal regime."

The judge who passed the ruling, Dariusz Lubowski, stated that "it is not possible to extradite anyone to a judiciary if this judiciary is non-existent, nor to a state that is, in fact, not a state at all."

"This country has demanded the extradition of a completely innocent citizen only because his views differ from those of its psychotic dictator (Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko - PAP), a dictator unrecognised by any civilised country," the court said.

Putilo is the founder of Nexta, a popular oppositionist online channel, which the Belarusian authorities have branded as extremist.

Nexta came into the headlines last May after the arrest of Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich when a plane taking him from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Belarus under a false bomb alarm.