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Heavy fines: Trials of four Belsat TV journalists today

28.08.2017 Source: ІІ, belsat.eu Story: 22.9 КаАП

On Friday, a Minsk court is considering administrative cases of Katsyaryna Andreyeva, Syarhei Kavaliou, Maryia Artsybashava and Ales Silich.

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Ales Silich is being tried for filming a protest rally of two cyclists near the Opera House in Minsk. Maryia Artsybashava suggests that she will have to appear before court for making the same news item. She does not know better as the police failed to give any details or show the protocol to her.

Officially, the journalists are accused of violating the law on mass media (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code), i.e. for working without accreditation.

“Such increase of pressure on Belsat TV at this very moment means that the authorities are getting ready for the autumn protest campaign announced by the opposition. However, the purpose of this pressure is not quite clear. It is a well-known fact that the fines is not the thing that make journalists afraid – they pay fines and continue to work. Apparently, the authorities simply want to remind journalists that they should not relax, that they are keeping a close eye on them. But I can assure the authorities that our journalists will not cease to cover events live, write articles for our and continue doing their job,” Alyaksei Minchonak, the official representative of Belsat Tv in Belarus, says.

“Such increase of pressure on Belsat TV at this very moment means that the authorities are getting ready for the autumn protest campaign announced by the opposition. However, the purpose of this pressure is not quite clear. It is a well-known fact that the fines is not the thing that make journalists afraid – they pay fines and continue to work. Apparently, the authorities simply want to remind journalists that they should not relax, that they are keeping a close eye on them. But I can assure the authorities that our journalists will not cease to cover events live, write articles for our and continue doing their job,” Alyaksei Minchonak, the official representative of Belsat Tv in Belarus, says.

Protocols were drawn upon Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Syarhei Kavaliou for livestreaming a protest rally on 3 July and the Airborne Forces Day celebration on July 29.

(UPD) Judge Ivan Kastsyan has announced the court’s decision: Katsyaryna Andreyeva and Syarhei Kavaliou got a fine of BYN 1,150 (nearly $600) each; Ales Silich and Maryia Artsybashava have been BYN 805 ($410) fined.

From the beginning of the year, the total sum of fines imposed on Belsat TV journalists and contributors has amounted to more than $11,000.

Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nine years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very nine years. 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.