Belsat contributor fined over news story about children's playground

A Sharkaushchyna court has considered the case against freelance journalist Zmitser Lupach on Monday.

Judge Aksana Tabola has found him of violating the law on media and imposed a fine of 1,080 rubles (about $540) on him.

The case was initiated under Art. 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses (illegal making and distribution of media products).

Zmitser Lupach, a resident of the town of Hlybokaye, was tried for contributing to a news item about a children’s playground. It was part of Belsat TV satirical show ‘Point-of-view Shot’ (Суб“ектыў).

To prove the journalist’s guilt, the judge proposed to watch the show on the Internet.

“Thus, [the 15-minute episode of] the show was viewed in court, it downloaded from the web. <…> Therefore, the audience watched the whole story from start to finish,” Lupach told

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Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 12 years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists. 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, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If one has accreditation, they are allowed to perform journalistic duties, if not – their activity is outlawed.

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