On April 15, Hlybokaye-based freelance journalist Zmitser Lupach stood trial in Sharkaushchyna district court. He was found guilty of violation of the law on mass media, in particular, cooperation with Belsat TV.
Judge Aksana Tabola imposed a fine of 892.5 rubles (about $440) on Lupach who contributed to a news story about the weak economy situation and low salaries in the region:
Two witnesses, Viktar Kruk and Mikalai Hryshchanka, who had been interviewed for the news story, were summoned. In court, the both voiced support for the journalist and wondered why he was being punished for the local authorities’ poor performance.
Zmitser Lupach drew the judge’s attention to the fact that a copy of the protocol did not match the original. Moreover, policemen said in the protocol that the journalist’s purpose was ‘collecting negative opinions’ about the social and economic situation in Sharkaushchyna district.
“I never set such a goal. I was just filming for the news story. It is not my fulth that the socio-economic status leaves much to be sesired; it is the local authorities who should bear responsibility,” Lupach stressed.
It is the fourth administrative case that has been initiated against Zmister Lupach in 2019. On April 11, Hlybokaye district court found the journalist guilty under the same article and fined.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials and work without accreditation.
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.