On May 7, Mahiliou-based cameraman Mikhail Arshynski faced two trials under Art. 22.9 of the Belarusian Code of Administrative Offences (illegal making of mass media products).
In Kastrychnitski District Court of Mahilou, Mikhail Arshynski appealed against the previous ruling that imposed a fine of 540 Belarusian rubles on him, but judge Ryhor Kachalau upheld it. Earlier, the cameraman had been found guilty of contributing to the Belsat TV news story about protests.
“The trial lasted about 30 minutes. Hardly had I read out my speech than the judge decided upon the sentence. He did not even retire into the jury room. We were shocked as such things had never happened before,” Mikhail told Belsat.
On the same day, Arshynski was tried in absentia and fined (BYN 594) in the town of Horki. The administrative case had been initiated over his filming for the news story about the roads in the village of Stan (Horki district).
Today’s penalties have totalled to 1,134 Belarusian rubles (about $460). The cameraman is set to file appeals against the two decisions to supreme courts.
Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 12 years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists. 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, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If one has accreditation, they are allowed to perform journalistic duties, if not – their activity is outlawed.