It is the tenth time the freelance journalist has been fined for ‘work without accreditation’ in 2017.
The journalist was accused of violating legislation on mass media (Part 2 of Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code) while cooperating with the TV channel “Belsat” without Belarus Foreign Ministry accreditation.
Judge Yauhen Sharshnyou imposed a fine of BYN 690 ($345) on Zhukouski for contributing to a news story about poor working conditions at one of Homiel-based plants.
The freelancer presented the verification letter of his not being a permanent employee of the channel, but it did not affect the judge’s decision.
Zhukouski, who posts videos on his own Youtube channel is a private person. According to Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, only legal entities may be held liable for the illegal production and distribution of media products.
According to the man, that he now fails to remember exactly the number of trials involving him: this year alone about 20 police reports have been drawn on him involving more than 10 court sessions. The total amount of fines imposed on him exceeded 9,000 Belarusian rubles.
In December, Kastus Zhukouski will stand another trial.
Since the beginning of the year, Belsat TV contributors have paid about $14,000 of fines to the state budget. According to Reporters Without Borders, it is our journalists who are harassed by Belarusian government agencies most.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nearly ten 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.