Svetlahorsk district court imposed BYN 1,150 fine on journalist Kastus Zhukouski.
Zhukouski appeared before court for his being involved in making a news story about a Chinese factory in Svetlahorsk, i.e. for work without accreditation.
“I received a summons to court. I did not know that a protocol had been drawn upon me. When we were filming in Svetlahorsk, someone was keeping watch over us,” he said.
A few days ago, president Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at the opening session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly that there was no problem with media freedom in Belarus, Zhukouski stresses.
“Well, here we see media freedom in the Belarusian style. I believe that the incumbent government has been lying for 23 years. I cannot understand why the whole democratic world buys this lie,” Zhukovski wonders.
News item about Chinese cellulose factory in Svetlahorsk
The situation in Belarus mass media field deteriorated again in March – April 2017. The deterioration was linked to the intention of Belarusian authorities to restrict the media coverage of mass protest actions in the country. The Belarusian Association of Journalists registered 123 cases of violations of journalist rights in connection with the media workers’ implementation of professional activities, including 94 cases of arbitrary detention and 6 cases of physical violence, in March 2017.
In the spring of 2017, Belsat TV contributors have been repeatedly arrested, tried and heavily fined for covering the protests. The total amount of fines reached $9,000. In addition, our journalists spent more than 30 days in prison.
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 have 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.
Since the beginning of the year, a dozen protocols have been drawn upon Kastus Zhukouski.