Pastavy district court found Hlybokaye-based journalist Zmitser Lupach guilty under Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code (violation of media legislation) and imposed a fine of 612.5 Belarusian rubles on him.
The administrative protocol was drawn upon Lupach for his allegedly contributing to a Belsat TV news item about the shortage of fertilizers..
It is the first time when Lupach has been punished in 2018. Last year the journalist was fined four times.
In 2017, 94% of fines for the so-called illegal production of media products fell on Belsat TV contributors, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reports.
Belarusian authorities are giving no peace to Belsat TV journalists: according to the BAJ, no other media outlet in the country is coming under such fire. In 2017, Belsat TV journalists paid over $ 14,000 of fines. Moreover, our ciolleagues were sentenced to dozens of days in prison.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting over 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.