Journalists to Pay for “Bandazhewski’s Case”
The court consideration of the case against Iryna Makavetskaya, Homel correspondent of “Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta”, lasted for more than a year. On 1 October Judge of Minsk Kastrychnitski Borough Court S. Tsorakh ruled to exact 800 000 rubles from the regional Unitarian enterprise “Marat” and 300 000 rubles from I. Makavetskaya. By this decision he partially satisfied the claims of the investigator of the Republican prosecutor’s office Viachaslaw Tserakhovich, who demanded 10 million rubles for insult of his honor and dignity. Besides, the court obliged “Belorusskaya Delovaya Gazeta” to publish disproof of the articles by Makavetskaya “Case of Medics”, Some Altruism in Bribery Case” and “Inconvenient “Questions”. In the pages of the independent newspaper Iryna Makavetskaya elucidated the “case of medics” about the alleged bribery among workers of Homel Medical Institute. According to Makavetskaya, the reason for persecution of the journalist was the conclusion the investigator made about her publications.
Here are the commentaries of the trial, given by Iryna Makavetskaya.
-- What was the essence of the investigator’s grievances against you as a journalist?
-- It’s worth mentioning that these grievances are not of the prosecutor’s office, but of the head of the investigative group that who investigated the criminal case against the professor Yury Bandazewski, Mr. Tserakhovich. He thinks that his honor and dignity were insulted in three of my articles, grounded on the results of the preliminary investigation and the beginning of the trial. It’s worth mentioning that these grievances appeared as a result of his conclusions about my articles. He has read a paragraph, concluded something and now demands to disprove his conclusions. We asked him many times to specify the demands in his suits, but he refuses to do it and insists on these claims.
Tserakhovich also denies having blackmailed Uladzimir Rawkow. The essence of the blackmail was that Rawkow confirmed his primary testimony to receive an easier sentence. All in all, there were five persons, accused of bribery, but women confessed having given a bribe to Yu. Bandazhewski and U. Rawkow. Rawkow didn’t take the blame and therefore the restraint to him is not changed.
At the same time, there are a number of letters, signed by the investigator Tserakhovich, where he openly speaks about his view on the situation and at the same time asks to disprove his conclusions in the court.
-- Did he try to negotiate with you or pressurize you?
-- He tried from the very beginning, back in 2001, when the verdict was pronounced. Even at present he refers to it: “There is the verdict. It justified all of my actions and if the accused are found guilty it means that I acted correctly.” However, to my mind, this verdict has hardly understandable episodes and is quite controversial. If it had not been that way, the UN Commission for Human Rights wouldn’t have accepted Yu. Bandazhewski’s complaint for consideration. However, it happened in spring 2003.
-- Iryna, do you think this suit is aimed to pressurize the newspaper or you as a journalist?
-- I think that Tserakhovich aimed at me, as, when the verdict was pronounced, he phoned me at the newspaper office and threatened to put me in jail next to Bandazhewski, initiate a criminal case. My fourth publication is about this. Here this incident is described as well as the decision of the editorial office to place the verdict and the complaint at the site so that readers could analyze them and understand the essence. I also recorded my conversation with the investigator, when he threatened me.
Last but not least, some traits of Tserakhovich’s behavior make me look out. I think that the pressure will harden as the case goes on.
It seems to me that the dismissal of Tserakhovich’s suit will breed doubts about the justice of the verdict of the Supreme Court.
Noted down by Yadviha MATSKEVICH