When being back from their vacation, freelance journalist Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava have learned that they were tried in absentia.
On May 31, Raman Karaban, a judge at Moscow district court of Brest, slapped a heavy fine on the journalistic duo. Lyauchuk and Kharytonava, who are a married couple in private, will have to pay 2,040 Belarusian rubles (about $1,000) to the state budget.
They were found guilty of illegal production and distribution of media products, i.e. for contributing to Belsat TV when covering the protests against the construction and launch of iPower battery plant in the city.
Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava have been repeatedly spotted interviewing local residents and officials. The crew has already had many trials and penalties over making reports about the situation in Brest.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials and work without accreditation. The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly declined to accredit Belsat TV in the country. 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. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.