Freelancers at gunpoint: Belarus court sets aside independent journalist’s cassational appeal

Judge Pavel Klimau dismissed Babruysk-based journalist Maryna Mauchanava’s appeal against the judgement. According to Ms Mauchanava, the judge took no notice of her arguments.

“This is another political put-up job,” she says, “I am going to appeal once again.”

On September 25, Babruysk district court fined Maryna Mauchanava for 32 basic amounts for ‘illegal production and distribution of information’ (de facto for contributing to a foreign mass medium without accreditation). 

Her article ‘Club-5000’ telling about civil activists’ assistance to cancer centres was published on, which resulted in imposing appr. $470 fine on the author.

It is interesting that when the journalist’s case started to be heard on September, 18 Mauchanava’s dossier happened to contain copies of materials from another similar case. In May,  Ales Zaleuski, an anchorman of Belsat TV, was fined for 30 basic amounts under the same charges. The papers of his case might have been copied and sent by the Karelichy district court to Babruysk, the journalist believes. Such actions can be regarded as bringing pressure on the judge, Ms Mauchanava says.

On August, 29, Maryna Mauchanava received a summons from the Babruysk police, according to which he was obliged to appear as a person charged with violation of the media legislation.

On September, 1 the journalist came to a police station in the town of Babruysk, where she was questioned by police Lieutenant Colonel Siarhei Rudzko. ‘He is majoring in political cases in Babruysk. All local human rights defenders, political activists fall into his hands,’ Marina Mauchanava told Belsat TV.

It is not the first time that the Belarusian regime has made an attempt to retaliate against freelance journalists who are not given any official permission to perform their professional duties in the country: three journalists in Hrodna region have been fined this year. Referring to the incident, Dunja Mijatovic,  Representative of the OSCE Office on Freedom of the Media, expressed concern with harassment of journalists and called on the Belarusian authorities not to create artificial obstacles to the activities of the press.

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