Maskouski district court of Brest will consider the administrative case of Ales Lyauchuk under Article 22.9 (violation of the law on the media), the freelance journalist learned from the message which some ‘Alyona’ sent him on Viber.
The Belsat TV contributor has no intention to appear before the court; he believes that all the sentences are delivered in advance by higher authorities and Belarusian judges just voice them.
Last year Belsat became aware that Shevchenko Street in Brest was repaired only in half, while the official report claimed it was done in full. Our film crew went there and filmed a story on the spot. As a result, police officer Raman Trafimuk drew a protocol upon Ales Lyauchuk for the violation of the law on mass media.
Interestingly, the policeman failed to accurately make it. Then Trafimuk drew a new protocol – in Lyauchuk’s absence and without his signature. Moreover, the journalist was sent a summons to the trial 14 minutes before its start. Judge Raman Karaban imposed 612.5 BYN fine on him for reporting on corruption in Brest.Of course, it could not satisfy the journalist and he appealed against the ruling. Brest Regional Court took the side of Belsat TV contributor Ales Lyauchuk and dismissed it on April, 12. But Alyona’s message indicates that the story might not have ended yet.
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.