Four trials of Belsat TV contributors were scheduled for Tuesday, April, 10.
Two of them – those of Alyaksandr Barazenka and Hanna Azemsha – took place. As the both failed to appear in court, the hearings were held in absentia. The verdicts are still unknown; when contacted by phone, court workers refused to go into detail saying that they would put all the papers in the mail.
The trial of our colleagues Andrus Kozel and Volha Czajczyc was postponed as the duo were absent. The exact date of the next hearing was not reported, but the journalists were warned that force might be used against them.
“In general, I see no point in our presence in court, since none of them have ever listened to our arguments. In addition, they appointed settled the date of the trial on Andrus’ birthday. And when we phoned to inform them about our not coming, they began to shout at us. Next time They said we that we are “through a holiday” does not want to come. They promised to take us to court by force,” Czajczyc told belsat.eu.
In 2017, freelance journalists Volha Czajczyc and Andrus Kozel paid 8,556 Belarusian rubles to the state budget. The crew was repeatedly fined for contribution to Belsat TV.
According to Reporters Without Borders, it is our journalists who are harassed by Belarusian government agencies most. In 2017, Belsat TV journalists paid over $ 14,000 of fines. 94% of fines for the so-called illegal production of media products fell on Belsat TV contributors, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reported.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting over ten years, has been repeatedly denied accreditation for its journalists in Belarus. The Foreign Ministry has 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.