Dzmitry Kurouski, a judge at Zhabinka district court, found two Brest-based Belsat TV contributors guilty of working without accreditation (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code).
Ales Lyauchuk got a maximum monetary penalty provided by the article – 1,225 Belarusian rubles. A fine of 490 rubles was imposed on his colleague and wife Milana Kharytonava. Consequently, the crew will have to pay about $850 to the state budget.
When reached by the local residents, the journalistic duo arrived at Azyaty, a village in Zhabinka district where a mass loss of pigs had happened. According to our contributors, the local authorities were trying to hush up any information about the situation.
“The regime has started a real war against us; they give us no space to live and work. The pressure is strong, systematic and continuous. The authorities and the police are definitely set to prevent us from contributing to Belsat. I cannot give another reason for what is going on,” Ales Lyauchuk said.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials (Article 22.9) and work without accreditation. In 2017 alone, Belsat contributors paid to the state as much as $14,000 in fines. According to BAJ, last year, 94% of fines for alleged illegal manufacturing of media materials fell on the journalists of Belsat.
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.
For the year to date, fines exceeding $ 32,000 have been imposed on our journalists by the Belarusian authorities.