Kastus Zhukouski, a Homiel-based freelance journalist and Belsat TV contributor, received a copy of the administrative protocol from by police officers of Aktsyabrski community. The document says that protocol was drawn up in accordance with Article 9.4 of the Administrative Code (insult), but the highlights of the alleged violation remains unreadable.
Mr Zhukouski states that the case is the consequences of the conflict between him and Valyantsina Shlapakova, a local official. On December 14, the freelance journalist filmed a video for a news story about expensive cars which Aktsyabrski executive committee officials buy using budget funds.
Mrs Shlapakova tried to prevent Zhukouski from performing his professional duties.
ВA news story about public servants’ cars
“She pushed me, pull my camera and clothes, demanded accreditation. But I did not insult her. Owing to their impunity, the Belarusian authorities have overstepped all the boundaries – they shoot at people, hit them with cars, and they come out dry. And this citizen [Shlapakova] has forgotten that she is a servant of the people, not a person who gets away with everything,” the freelancer says.
On January 4, Kastus Zhukouski filed statements to the police and prosecutor’s office of Artsyabrski district. In a statement to the prosecutor, Zhukouski asks to take action against the police officers who fail to follow the procedure in the preparation of the administrative protocol, falsified data and issued a document which is almost illegible.
“Also, no one informed ne that a preliminary inquiry was in progress, I had no opportunity to be heard. I demand all the guilty be punished and the staff of Aktsyabrski district police department be obliged to follow the spirit and the letter of the law. Moreover, all the witnesses should be questioned and executive committee CCTV footage should be taken into account,” he stresses.
Meanwhile, Loyeu policeman Uladzimir Buhautsou is suing Zhukouski in Tsentralny district court of Homiel.
The policeman has taken him to court over protection of honor, dignity and business reputation. He also wants to get a compensation for moral damages. The latter is estimated at 2,000 Belarusian rubles. Uladzimir Buhautsou became offended by Zhukouski posting an online report about the actions of the Loyeu police which had pictures of the policeman.
In 2016, Zhukouski has already been fined 7 times for illegal production and distribution of media products (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code), but in fact – for contribution to foreign mass media without having accreditation. Protesting against unfair decisions, he even sewed his mouth.
Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for eight years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very eight years. Its recent request was turned down in March, 2015. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat TV because the journalists working for it … break the law. The document lists the names of nine persons who received warnings of the Belarusian prosecutor’s office over this case.
So 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.