On March 18, Pershamayski district court of Vitsebsk imposed two maximum fines under Part 3 of Article 23.5 of the Code of Administrative Offences on journalist Zmitser Kazakevich for ‘cooperation with a foreign media outlet’ without being accredited by the Belarusian Foreign Ministry.
He will have to pay the total of 1,740 rubles to the state budget.
Judges Andrey Shydlouski and Veranika Barysava found the media worker guilty of ‘illegal production’ of two articles for belsat.eu. According to protocols drawn upon him by the policemen, the author ‘abused the rights and violated a journalist’ duties’ when writing the materials, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports.
One of the articles is a story of the fired university lecturer who served three days of arrest for having white and red curtains in his flat; the other is about the trial of a Vitsebsk resident who was charged with offering resistance to the police. The information related to those articles was found during checking the content of the journalist’s laptop which was confiscated by the police during searching his place.
Expressing solidarity with our imprisoned colleagues Darya Chultsova and Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Zmitser Kazakevich refused to give an explanation to the court. The journalist pleaded not guilty and quoted an excerpt from 1984, a famous dystopian novel by George Orwell. It says that living in a country can be considered as ‘normal’ only when if two times two is four, and no one tries to prove that this is not the case.
Zmitser was about to present this book translated into the Belarusian language to judge Andrey Shydlouski, but the latter refused, saying that judges are forbidden to accept any gifts from parties to trials. Moreover, he does not read in Belarusian, Shydlouski added.