The Belarusian official authorities have started a new wave of pressure on independent journalists. The previous repressive trend was suspended, following the promises, given by the President of Belarus A. Lukashenka, to look into the problem in August 2015.
Reportedly, the police composed a report for ‘illegal production and distribution of mass media products’ (art. 22.9 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses) against an independent journalist Larysa Shchyrakova from Homiel.
Ms. Shchyrakova has been notified by mail that the report was made by a police officer R.Tsitou in the journalist’s absence on December 24, 2015.
Ms Shchyrakova’s TV report was dedicated to the problems of a former foster-child from the orphanage in Urytski settlement, Homiel region. The TV footage was presented on ‘Belsat’ TV channel.
It was the sixth police report against the independent journalist for her cooperation with a foreign media outlet without the press accreditation. All in all, Belarusian independent media workers were fined 28 times on the same charges (article 22.9 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses) in 2015.
It is worth mentioning that the situation improved for some time after August 4, 2015, when the President of Belarus Aliaksandr Lukashenka stated in his interview to independent media that he didn’t support the restrictions for journalists in principle and promised to look into the situation.
Consequently, administrative cases against independent journalists weren’t filed for four months in a row.
Another freelance journalist from Homiel Kastus Zhukouski was called to the police department to receive a police report for violating article 22.9 of Belarus Code on Administrative Offenses at the very end of the year 2015.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists is deeply concerned with the new wave of prosecution against independent reporters. The BAJ leadership is about to take steps in order to defend the Association members’ rights.