On September 25, Babruysk district court fined belsat TV contributor Maryna Mauchanava for 32 basic amounts for ‘illegal production and distribution of information’ ( de facto for contributing to a foreign mass medium without accreditation). Her article was published on belsat.eu.
On August, 29, Maryna Mauchanava received a summons from the Babruysk police, according to which he was obliged to appear as a person charged with violation of the media legislation.
On September, 1 the journalist came to a police station in the town of Babruysk, where she was questioned by police Lieutenant Colonel Siarhei Rudzko. ‘He is majoring in political cases in Babruysk. All local human rights defenders, political activists fall into his hands,’ Marina Mauchanava told Belsat TV. Mr Rudzko showed an intense interest in her article ‘Club-5000’ dwelling upon activists’ asistance to cancer centres.
Ms Mauchanava was informed of a planned trial just a day before. The journalist asked to defer the sitting to a later date to get ready and consult with a lawyer.
During yesterday’s trial judge Natallia Charapukha heard the testimony of another police officer who had found Malchanava’s text on the website, listened to the defense arguments indicating discrepancies in the case – and ruled to fine the journalist for 32 basic amounts, which is 4, 800, 000 rubles, or some $500. Maryna Mauchanava is going to appeal against the judge’s decision.
It is interesting that when the journalist’s case started to be heard on September, 18 Mauchanava’s dossier happened to contain copies of materials from another similar case. In May, Ales Zaleuski, an anchorman of Belsat TV, was fined for 30 basic amounts under the same charges. The papers of his case might have been copied and sent by the Karelichy district court to Babruysk, the journalist believes. Such actions can be regarded as bringing pressure on the judge, Maryna Mauchanava says.
It is to be recalled that in March, 2013 Belsat TV made its third attempt to get a formal accreditation and filed all the necessary documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But in vain: the Ministry’s officers refused to register its correspondent office in Minsk referring to Belsat contributors’ alleged law violations. As our journalists and contributors have to perform their professional duties without any accreditation they repeatedly draw fire from public officers.