Lohvinau’s Suit against Information Ministry Dismissed

30.01.2015 Source: According to TUT.BY, BAJ translation

Lohvinau tried to dispute six refusals of registration of his bookstore as a distributor of print products; however, the Supreme Court supported the standing of the registering body.

Last year Lohvinau applied six times to get registered as a distributor of print products (BAJ note – the obligation to register as such was introduced with the new law on publishers and distributors of print products enacted on January 1, 2014; the registration should have been obtained within a year). The last of the refusals was due to incorrect postal code indicated in the application form.

The lawyer of Lohvinau Siarhei Zikratski argued that a postal code was not the information compulsory for filling in into the application form, so the mistake could not be regarded as a ground for denying accreditation.

Representatives of the Ministry of Information argued that information submitted for registration had to be true, regardless of the fact whether it was compulsory or optional.

On January 30, the Judge of the Supreme Court Aliaksandr Pautau supported the Ministry’s point of view.

We remind that the absence of the registration as a distributor of print products in 2014 ended up with a tax inspection at the end of the year. The tax inspectors sued Lohvinau in Economic Court, which ruled to fine the bookseller 30 basic amounts (5.4 million rubles) for work without registration and to confiscate profits of the year which was claimed to be 961 million rubles.

Lohvinau pleaded for public help to raise the funds to compensate the fine and confiscation, in case the ruling supported in appeal. The bookseller says the sum of money is not the profit, but the annual turnover, and the bookstore will go bankrupt, and he might face personal criminal liability.

Earlier, in 2013 the Ministry of Information terminated Lohvinau’s license as a publisher. The pretext for the sanction was decision of Ashmiany district court that the photo album Belarus Press Photo 2011, published by Lohvinau, contained extremist contents. The court decision on the photo album was denounced by reporters’ professional community. Lohvinau, in his turn, argued that he could not foresee a year before that the album could be claimed extremist, but this did not matter, and the Supreme Economic Court upheld the Ministry’s decision to rip the publisher off the publishing license. In February 2014, Lohinau registered an organization Literary House Lohvinau in Vilnius.

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