Popular Belarusian portal TUT.BY deprived of media status

On December 3, the Economic Court of Minsk deprived TUT.BY of its media outlet status. The lawsuit against the company was filed by the Information Ministry; the latter found ‘false information’ in its articles.

The media outlet status provides a number of advantages; in particular, the ability to legally be present in areas of armed conflicts, at emergency fields, at mass events, etc and report from there. It should be recalled that TUT.BY was registered as a media outlet in January 2019; since its founding in 2000, the portal had been working without this status.

TUT.BY is also bound to cover sue charges and court fees (totalling to 1,340 Belarusian rubles).

“Stripping TUT.BY of the network resource status is crackdown on the freedom of information envisaged in Art. 34 of the Constitution,” defence lawyer Syarhei Zikratski stressed.

Belarus authorities suspend popular news portal’s status of media outlet

The company is goung to appeal against the court ruling, TUT>BY Media CEO Lyudmila Chekina said. According to her, the portal will continue to work, but without the status of the media outlet, its journalists will definitely have more difficulty obtaining information.

Since August of this year, the Information Ministry has issued four warnings to TUT.BY over the articles ‘Seven times more voters and secret protocols. What violations observers witnessed and what Central Election Commission said’, ‘The State Control Committee to pay large bonuses to workers who show themselves in high-profile cases’, ‘Law enforvers visit TUT.BY editor. Her daughter suspect in mass riots criminal case’ and ‘Belarusian customs office asks to confirm lack of calls for coup in Harry Potter book’. To deprive the portal of the media outlet status, even two warnings are enough.

On October 1, the Belarusian authorities suspended TUT.BY’s status of an online media outlet for the period of three months.

Three Belarusian media workers are currently behind bars as suspects in criminal cases: Katsyaryna Andreyeva (Belsat TV), Darya Chultsova (Belsat TV), Katsyaryna Barysevich (TUT.BY). It is an open secret that messages from outside give enourmous support and encouragement to a prisoner; that is why we urge our readers to send letters to the jailed journalists:

Кацярына Андрэева (Бахвалава): 222160 Беларусь, г. Жодзіна, вул. Савецкая, д. 22а / Katsyaryna Andreyeva (Bakhvalava): Savetskaya Street 22a, Zhodzina, 222160 Belarus

Дарʼя Чульцова: 222160 Беларусь, г. Жодзіна, вул. Савецкая, д. 22а / Darya Chultsova: Savetskaya Street 22a, Zhodzina, 222160 Belarus

Кацярына Барысевіч: Беларусь, 220030 г. Менск, вул. Валадарскага, д. 2. СІЗА № 1 / Katsyaryna Barysevich: Detention facility Nr 1, Valadarski Street 2, Minsk, 220030 Belarus

Don’t forget to enclose an empty envelope so that the girls could respond to your letter. Thank you for your unindifference!

Belsat, TUT.BY journos Andreyeva, Chultsova, Barysevich recognised as prisoners of conscience