Belsat contributor facing trial for reporting Belarus Nobel laureate’s meeting with youth

Larysa Shchyrakova is accused of contributing to Belsat TV without having accreditation.

The freelance journalist covered the visit of Nobel laureate Svetlana Alexievich to Kapatkevichy school from which the renowned writer graduated in 1965.

The hearing will be held in Petrykau district court on 5 October. According to the journalist, she learned about the upcoming trial from a judicial secretary.

“The police did not summon me; they even fail to inform me of the protocol drawn,” Shchyrakova says.

On October 4, Shchyrakova will be tried over another case in a Homiel court.

In 2017, Larysa Shchyrakova has been five times held administratively liable for contributing to Belsat TV and allegedly participating in an unauthorized mass event. The total amount of fines the journalist had to pay has exceeded 3,200 Belarusian rubles.

Earlier this year, the police came to Larysa Shchyrakova to tell her that her 10-year-old son Svyataslau may be put in an orphanage. For being repeatedly brought to administrative responsibility over “illegal production and distribution of mass media materials” the journalist’s family may be included in the list of socially unstable.

Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nine 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.

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