Another fine has been imposed on a Homiel-based freelance journalist for for illegal production and distribution of media products, but in fact – for contribution to foreign mass media without having accreditation (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code).
The decision was delivered by judge Andrey Auseytsau of Karma district court on January, 20. The fine amounts to Br 6.3 mln (about $300)
In December 2015, Kastus Zhukouski and his colleague Arkadz Malysh were detained by the police for ‘illegal’ covering the situation of the residents of Karma who were cut off from water for a long period of time.
It is the third fine that the Belarusian authorities have imposed fines on independent journalists this year.
On January 14, Judge Lyudmila Savastsyanava of Kalinkavichy district court gave a sentence for illegal production and distribution of media products in Zhukouski’s absence.
On January 13, the same article was used to fine another journalist from Homiel —Larysa Shchyrakova (Br 4.62 mln).
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for eight years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very eight years. Its recent request was turned down in March, 2015. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat TV because the journalists working for it … break the law. The document lists the names of nine persons who received warnings of the Belarusian prosecutor’s office over this case.
So 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.