On September 29, the Minsk city court will consider the case of freelance journalists Maryia Artsybashava and Ales Silich.
In late August, the journalists were accused of illegal production and distribution of media product (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code of Belarus), i.e. for working for Belsat TV without accreditation. Silich and Artsybashava were BYN 805 fined each.
Artsybashava and Silich have decided to appeal against the court ruling.
Since the beginning of the year, the total sum of fines imposed on Belsat TV journalists and contributors has amounted to more than $11,000.
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.