50 Million Rubles’ Suits against “Narodnaya Volia”
On 15 January two suits on protection of honor, dignity, business reputation and compensation of the moral harm were filed to Minsk Leninski Borough Court by the “Alliance-media” enterprise (founder of the “Obozrevatel” newspaper) and the businessman Siarhey Atroshchanka (chief editor of the edition). The plaintiffs demand from the newspaper to pay 50 million rubles to each of them.
The reason for the suits to “Narodnaya Volia” was the article “Sergey Atroshchenko’s “Obozrevatel”: Bandit Treatment of Leonid Levin”, published on 3 September 2003. The author of the article analysed the conflict between the editorial board of “Obozrevatel” and the head of the Union of Jewish organizations and communities Leanid Levin that resulted from the article by “Obozrevatel” “Are deputies Kostyan, Novosyad and Frolov Personal Anti-Semites?”. Mr. Levin was of the opinion that the author of the latter article corrupted the sence of his interview and shared this opinion with “Narodnaya Volia”. The founders of “Alliance-media”, in their turn, decided that the newspaper “used the miscomprehension between them and Mr. Levin as a means of dishonest struggle for the readers’ attention”. “The publication of this order inflicted to us moral harm, responsible for which must be “Narodnaya Volia”, -- is said in the suit. The plaintiff asks the court to find the name of the article and several expressions, used in it, “insulting for honor and dignity and business reputation”, make “Narodnaya Volia” disprove them and publish its apologies and also exact from the defendant 50 millions in favour of the editorial board of “Obozrevatel”.
The second article that ensued in suit appeared in 26 November under the heading “What Business Feels Well in Belarus?”. Its author Maryna Koktysh asked Belarusian economists to comment on the interview of Siarhey Atroshchanka to the “Interfax” agency in which he stated that “Belarus has wonderful conditions for business”. A number of expressions, such as “Atroshchanka is not interested in seeing Belarus rise above Shklow business level”, “Atroshchanka’s expression is nonsense”, “I don’t understand such patriotic yelping” S. Atroshchanka considered as direct insults.
In his suit S. Atroshchanka said that he, as every citizen of the Republic of Belarus, had the right to free expression of his personal opinion on every matter. At the same time, he thinks that “Narodnaya Volia” “insulted his honor, dignity and business reputation and inflicted moral harm” by publication the opinions of his opponents. The plaintiff asks the court to oblige “Narodnaya Volia” to publish the “confession of the editorial board” and exact from the defendant 50 million rubles in his favour.
Press-service of the PA “Belarusian Association of Journalists”
Information Department of HRC “Viasna”