Homiel-based freelance journalist Kastus Zhukouski is facing confiscation of property over unpaid fines he was given for contributing to Belsat TV.
On August 21, court officers are expected to come and take inventory.
“I have two fimes (about BYN 1,000) under Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code, but at the moment I have no money. I called court officers and explained everything. On Monday they will come to distrain my property,” he told Belsat TV.
Moreover, Kastus Zhukouski was summoned to Lida police. A protocol will be drawn apon him for allegedly making a news story about low salaries in Lida (Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code). On August 23, the reporter will have to appear before Loyeu district court.
Regrettably, Kastus Zhukouski has hit a record in receiving penalties for working without accreditation in Belarus. Over the last three years, he has been fined 17 times; the total sum reached $6,000.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nine years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very nine years. 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 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.