Not everyone in Belarus is allowed to express their opinion. The evidence says that most independent journalists covering different events in Belarus run a risk of being fined or arrested. According to the sentence delivered by Svetlahorsk district court, Homel-based independent journalists Larysa Shchyrakova and Kastus Zhukouski will have to pay BR 900,000 fine each for participating in an unsanctioned picket.
Watch our video (with ENG subtitles):
KASTUS ZHUKOUSKI, journalist:
“If you film a picket it means that you take part in it; if you cover some action – you immediately become its participant. In the wake of the 2015 presidential elections the authorities are sending a clear message to journalists.”
LARYSA SHCHYRAKOVA, journalist, Belsat contributor:
“We should work and perform our duties, we should keep douing what we do, because such persecution proves that we do the right thing.”
On November 25, 2014 Yury Liashenka, a disabled person, tried to hold a picket in Svetlahorsk to draw public attetion to violation of rights of people with disabilities. But the attempt resulted in his detaining by medical workers, which was reported by Kastus Zhukouski and Larysa Shchyrakova. The both had to appear in court.
There have been more than 15 cases of exerting pressure on independent journalists over the last year. As a rule, they ended in prosecutorial warnings or heavy fines the total of which has already reached BR 112 mln.