A journalist and a BAJ member Larysa Shchyrakova has been fined by Homiel District Court 22 base amounts (4 million 620 thousand Belarusian rubles – around EUR 225). She was found guilty of breaking article 22.9 of Belarusian Code on Administrative Offenses (‘Illegal Production and Violation of Mass Media Products’). De-facto, she was punished for cooperation with a foreign media outlet without accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. The case was considered by the judge Aliaksandr Lisouski on January 13, 2016.
The journalist attended the court session. She didn’t admit her guilt. She noted that one cannot be punished for contributing materials to a foreign media without accreditation under administrative law. She added that only mass media organization / editorials can deal with ‘production of media products’.
The journalist is planning to appeal against the verdict to a high court.
According to the police report of December 24, 2015, composed by a police captain of Homiel Department of Internal Affairs R.Tsitou , the journalist “prepared an interview of different citizens in the Urytskaye agricultural settlement in Homiel district on December 24, 2015, produced illegally mass media production – a video report on ‘Support of Orphans on their Way to Adult Life’, published on the air of ‘Belsat’ TV channel on December 24, 2015 ”.
It should be reminded that several police reports for breaking article 22.9 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses were made in relation to freelance journalists at the very end of 2015 and at the very beginning of 2016. One of them was composed in relation to the freelance journalist Larysa Shchyrakova. Two other police reports concerned another freelance reporter from Homiel region, Kastus Zhukouski. The latter expects for the third police report to be received from Vietka Department of Internal Affairs by mail in a short while.
Larysa Shchyrakova and Kastus Zhukouski sent complaints to the heads of Homiel, Kalinkavichy, and Karma Departments of Internal Affairs, whose officers had made the reports in relation to them.
It should be underscored that Kastus Zhukouski was fined six times and Larysa Shchyrakova was fined twice on the same arguable administrative charges in 2015.
All in all, independent freelance journalists were fined 28 times in Belarus in the year of 2015.