Homiel-based freelance journalist Kastus Zhukouski may be fined for covering problems of the villagers living near a large pig farm.
A news item about the situation in the village of Krasnogorsk (Buda-Kashalyova district) was televised by Belsat TV on June 8.
The local police drew a protocol upon the journalist. He is accused of illegal production and distribution of media products (Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code of Belarus).
In addition, Loyeu residents who told their stories for another news item made by Zhukouski have been summoned to the police as witnesses.
Two weeks ago Zhukouski was stripped of his driver’s license after his being present at the trial of blogger Maksim Filipovich accused of ‘replacing the media’.
“His car was stopped. The Lieutenant-Colonel did not introduce himself. He came up with a story of Kastus repeatedly violating the traffic rules, but in fact Kastus had received no summons. He told us to go to the traffic police station to sort the whole thing. Kastus said that would not go anywhere, and I was filming it. The policemen snatched out my camera and prevented me from filming. It may have been damaged,” said Kastus’ friend.
During the conflict, a second traffic police crew arrived. The policemen chained Zhukouski to a tree, and then shoved him into a police car by force. The journalist was screaming in pain. Traffic policemen have detained Kastus Zhukouski’s car and took him to the police station by force.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nine years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very nine years. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.
Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek… And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.
Since the beginning of the year, a dozen protocols have been drawn upon Kastus Zhukouski.