Journalists Alena Shabunya and Zmitser Lupach have come to the attention of the Belrusian authorities in the wake of the 2018 parliamentary elections as they contributed to a news story aired on Belsat TV.
The Vitsebsk region police initiated the case under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (‘illegal production of media products’) against the journalists. The trial will take place on December, 12.
The above-mentioned news item featured the issues the residents of the village of Shevina were facing in their relations with the local authorities. In response, the villagers voiced the intention to boycott the elections.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat contributors 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.