Court dismisses Belarusian portal TUT.BY’s complaint against revoking its mass media status

On January 19, the Economic Court of Minsk considered the appeal which TUT.BY Media filed against the decision to strip the company of its media status.

The judges found no grounds to quash the ruling, and it has come into force today.

“This is just a confirmation of what was made on December, 3. Frankly speaking, as we fully realised what the case was going to end with, we did not even attend the hearing, only our lawyer Syarhei Zikratski was present in court. Indeed, the lack of this status is a nuisance. But the truth is that I am much more worried about the fact that our [journalist] Katsyaryna Barysevich has been in prison for two months without any guilt,” editor-in-chief Maryna Zolatava commented on the situation.

Minsk court lets detainer stand: Journo, single mother Katsyaryna Barysevich still behind bars

Since August 2020, the Belarusian Information Ministry issued four warnings to TUT.BY over the articles ‘Seven times more voters and secret protocols. What violations observers witnessed and what Central Election Commission said’, ‘The State Control Committee to pay large bonuses to workers who show themselves in high-profile cases’, ‘Law enforvers visit TUT.BY editor. Her daughter suspect in mass riots criminal case’ and ‘Belarusian customs office asks to confirm lack of calls for coup in Harry Potter book’. Later, one of the warnings was annuled.

On October 1, the Belarusian authorities suspended TUT.BY’s status of an online media outlet for the period of three months. In early December, the Economic Court deprived the portal of its media outlet status. The lawsuit against the company was filed by the Information Ministry; the latter found ‘false information’ in its articles.

The media outlet status provides a number of advantages; in particular, the ability to legally be present in areas of armed conflicts, at emergency fields, at mass events, etc and report from there. It should be recalled that TUT.BY was registered as a media outlet in January 2019; since its founding in 2000, the portal had been working without this status.

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