THE NAVINKI EDITOR-IN-CHIEF FINED FOR “SPREADING DELIBERATELY FALSE INFORMATION, WHICH DEFAMES THE PRESIDENT OF BELARUS”
On 20 May Maskowski borough court of Minsk tried Pawluk Kanavalchyk, editor-in-chief of The Navinki newspaper. He was charged under Art 172.1 part 10 of the Code of Administrative Offences (Violation of legislation about press and other mass media – Spreading deliberately false information, which defames honor and dignity of the President of the Republic of Belarus through mass media – a fine from 50 to 100 minimal salaries).
The charge was grounded on the article, published in issue #7, 20-27 March 2003, “The Second Belarusian Revolution of Connotation”.
Judge Maksim Falko presided at the hearing. The Judge decided, that in the article (one of the pictures, which illustrate the article, to be exact), there were “wordings, which defame the honor and dignity of the President”.
The editor-in-chief stated that “words on one of the pictures of the president were taken out of the context of the whole article. The article was of satirical nature and did not defame the president”.
In spite of the fact, that P. Kanavalchyk pleaded not guilty, the judge chose the maximal penalty under this article – a fine of 100 minimal salaries (665 USD).
It’s worth mentioning that articles with similar charges are also contained in the Criminal Code (Art 367, 368, 369). Three journalists (M. Markevich, P. Mazheika, and I. Ivashkevich) have already been convicted under such charges. Other journalists are awaiting trial on similar accusations. It would be interesting to know, how prosecutors decide, what is an administrative offence, and what is a criminal one.