Supreme Economic Court Rejects “Navinki” Suit
On 23 July the Supreme Economic Court rejected the suit of the newspaper “Navinki” to the Ministry of Information, leaving in force the ministry warning, issued on 22 May for violation of Article No. 5 of the Law on press, “by the article “Opium for Masses” in No. 11 (90) and for the headline in the “Analytics” rubric that “offended the public morality”. It was the second warning. The first one was issued on 21 May for violation of Article No. 5 of the Law on press in No. 7 (86) by publication of two photos of President with “insulting commentaries”.
The plaintiff’s interests were represented at court by the chief editor Pawliuk Kanavalchyk and the advocate Tatsiana Stankevich. They tried to prove that the names of the two articles that were mentioned in the warning, weren’t harmful for the morality of the readers as the words, used there, are widespread among youth and often used in other mass media, especially electronic ones. Tatsiana Stankevich stated that the artistic value of the articles could be disputable, but absence of moral harm was evident. This opinion was supported by the conclusion of Belarusian PEN-center, prepared for the trial and read at court.
The Ministry of Information, represented by Aliaksey Lukhverchyk, its main juridical consultant, and Liliya Bohdan, head of the main juridical board, insisted on amorality of the expressions, used in the headlines. A. Lukhverchyk stated that the newspaper expressed its disrespect to the whole society, as it was being distributed not only by subscription, but sold through the State distribution net. L. Bohdan spoke about the drop of moral values in the society, blaming mass media, especially electronic ones, and said that it was the duty of the State to defend its citizens.
Judge announced breaks twice for the sitting. At about 4 p.m. he pronounced the verdict to reject the suit, obliging the plaintiff to cover the court expenses and leaving in force the warning.
Belarusian Association of Journalists