Belsat TV contributors Tatyana Belashova and Maryia Artsybashava were detained near the building of Salihorsk district court on Friday.
Local policemen saw their camera and decided to check documents.
“They phoned someone. And then we were told they got information that we are connected to the TV channel Belsat. We were taken to the police station,” Tatsyana Belashova said.
It was police officer Mikhail Alyakhnovich who took the decision to detain the duo.
The policemen drew a protocol upon the reporters, but Belashova and Artsybashava refused to sign it. Later the journalists were released. They may face trial and then fine for the so-called violation of mass media law.
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.