Making photos goes beyond journo duties – Belarus police to Belsat TV reporter

Volha Czajczyc has received another summons to court. The hearing is scheduled for September, 10.

The Belsat TV journalist has been summoned over a photo report made in August in Kurapaty near Minsk. Interestingly, the protocol drawn upon her includes a weird wording: according to the policeman, Volha’s making a report ‘went beyond her commission and violated journalistic journalistic duties’.

“It is very strange language, I do not know where it came from,” Czajczyc wondered.

Such a formulation is nothing but an example of police absurdism, Aleh Aheyeu, the lawyer of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ), believes.

“Unfortunately, it is a case of politically motivated persecution. It has nothing to do with the law. We can only laugh at it and wait for the court’s response,” he said.

At the same time, there were cases when such absurd reports were sent back for revision.

Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code) and work without accreditation. In 2017 alone, Belsat contributors paid to the state as much as $14,000 in fines. According to BAJ, last year, 94% of fines for alleged illegal manufacturing of media materials fell on the journalists of Belsat.

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.

For the year to date, fines totaling to about $ 30,000 have been imposed on our journalists by the Belarusian authorities. However, these draconian measures will not affect our work. We keep developing and launching new projects. A new season is coming soon…


See also