Journalist Ales Lyauchuk is facing trial for making a news story about a corruption scheme by Brest officials.
In 2017 Belsat TV found out that although only half of Shevchenko Street in Brest had been repaired, officials had reported the completion of repair works. Our journalists described the situation in a news item, which angered the local authorities:
On February 26, Raman Trafimuk, an employee of Maskouski district police department, gave a summons to Lyauchuk. A day later, policemen drew a protocol upon him under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (violation of media law). The trial is scheduled for March 2, but Lyauchuk is not going to appear before court. According to the journalist, he does not want to ‘take part in a farce’.
“It is the fifth time that I will be tried, but this time let the hearing take place without let me; I am not interested in playing this game anymore. During four previous ships I tried to win, but when one plays with a cheater, it is impossible to win. Therefore, what is the point in participating?” Lyauchuk said.
According to Reporters Without Borders, it is our journalists who are harassed by Belarusian government agencies most. In 2017, Belsat TV journalists paid over $ 14,000 of fines. 94% of fines for the so-called illegal production of media products fell on Belsat TV contributors, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reported.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting over ten years, has been repeatedly denied accreditation for its journalists in Belarus. The Foreign Ministry has 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.