A judge of the Supreme Economic Court rejected an appeal by Ihar Lohvinau, the founder and owner of the Lohvinau Publishing House, against the Information Ministry’s decision to strip the house of its license.
As the pretext, the Ministry refers to the decision of Ashmiany district court of Hrodna region on April 18, 2013 saying that the album Belarus Press Photo 2011, published by this publisher house, was extremist.
The lawyer for the appellant, Andrey Bastunets of the Belarusian Association of Journalists, pointed out that the publication of a product later found to be extremist was not among the possible legal grounds for license revocation.
According to him, the 2011 Belarus Press Photo book had been published long before it was declared extremist, and that the Information Ministry’s decision did not comply with Belarus’ constitution and the country’s international commitments because it was an ‘obvious restriction on freedom of expression and opinion’.
Representatives of the Ministry claimed that the ministry did have the right to make such decisions irrespective of when a book had been declared extremist.
Mr Bastunets suggested that the Ministry had taken away the Lohvinau Publishing House’s license to get rid of a competitor for publishing houses controlled by the Ministry.
However, judge Tatsiana Pratashchyk dismissed his request as irrelevant to the case. She also checked the journalists’ passports before allowing them into the courtroom and asked about the media outlets they represented.
Lohvinau Publisher House has been one of the leading publishers of the Belarusian literature.
Belsat, following BelaPAN