Journalist Zmitser Lupach, who lives in the town of Hlybokaye, has been fined for ‘work without accreditation’.
A Hlybokaye court imposed a fine of BYN 483 ($240) on him. Judge Andrey Tarasevich found Mr Lupach guilty as the freelance journalist had contributed to making a news story about Hlybokaye milk canning plant. It was aired by Belsat TV on September 20 (watch the video above).
It is the third time in 2017 that Lupach has been charged with Illegal production and distribution of media products (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code) and fined.
Belarusian authorities are giving no peace to Belsat TV journalists: according to the BAJ, no other media outlet in the country is coming under such fire. For the year to date, Belsat TV journalists have had to pay about $ 14,000 of fines. Moreover, our ciolleagues have been sentenced to dozens of days in prison.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nearly ten 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.