Tatsiana Protska and Zmitser Kozyr Sue Belarusian TV-Company
On 6 May Minsk Pershamayski Borough Court started the hearings on the suit of the head of Belarusian Helsinki Committee Tatsiana Protska and her husband Zmitser Kozyr to Belarusian State TV-Company and the journalist Yury Prakopaw concerning protection of honor and dignity.
The reason for the suit was the broadcast “V tsentre vnimaniya” (“In the center of attention”), demonstrated at first national TV-channel in the evening of 29 February and repeated in the morning of 1 March 2003. This material prepared by Yury Prakopaw described profits and property of some representatives of Belarusian political parties and public organizations, including the head of Belarusian Helsinki Committee and her husband, head of “Zabalattse” farm in Smaliavichy district. In private, a house and two cars that allegedly belonged to the family were shown. The author also called a huge sum of money, allegedly equivalent to the monthly wage of the BHC head.
The plaintiffs are of the opinion that the National State Radio and TV-Company and Yury Prakopaw violated the Constitution of Belarus and the Instruction about the regime of access to documents that concern private life of citizens (this document was adopted by the Committee on archives and office procedures on 3 July 1996). T. Protska’s representative Harry Pahaniayla explained to the press-service of Belarusian Association of Journalists that access to the information that is considered as “secret of private life” is limited and can be achieved only after appropriate inquiries to court, prosecutor’s office or investigative bodies. This information is not given to other citizens, because articles 28 and 29 of the Constitution guarantee secret of private life, whereas the information that was demonstrated by Belarusian television belonged to this category.
On 6 May the plaintiffs disproved the majority of the information, stated in the program. The defendant failed to present any evidence that the information was true and refused to call the source from which it was obtained. Besides, it was found that the TV crew entered private territory without authorization.
Nevertheless, the journalist stated that the broadcast information was neutral. The representative of NSTRC Andrey Ivanow was of the opinion that the statement of the plaintiffs about “moral sufferings” was groundless. “It is too difficult to define where private life begins and ends”, -- he said. However, he had to admit that he didn’t read the Instruction of the Committee on archives and office procedures.
Having watched the video tape and listened to both sides, Judge Ananich decided to postpone the trial to 5 June. Judge also proposed to the plaintiffs to present declarations about income and property.
Press-service of the PA “Belarusian Association of Journalists”