Pershamaiski Court Rules in Favor of State TV Company
June 7 Pershamaiski borough court (Judge Ananich) dismissed the action of Tatsiana Protska, chair of Belarusian Helsinki Committee, and her husband Dzmitry Kozyr to the National State TV Company and its reporter Yury Prakopaw.
The plaintiffs demanded compensation of moral damages for revealing the secrecy of their private life.
The ground for the suit was the TV program “In the Center of Attention” shown by the Belarusian TV in the evening of February 29 and repeated in the morning of March 1. The program, authored by Yury Prakopaw, speculated about the incomes and property of some representatives of political parties and NGOs, including Tatsiana Protska and her husband, head of Zabalatstse farm in Smalavichy district. In particular, the program showed a house and cars allegedly belonging to the family and mentioned a large some of money allegedly received by BHC chairperson as her monthly salary.
The plaintiffs demanded 35 million BYR of moral damages each for violation of the secrecy of their private life. In the courtroom they demonstrated a number of documents proving the BTV crew had trespassed on the territory of a private farm. Besides that, the plaintiffs presented documented evidence of health problems they and their relatives had had after the TV coverage. The court attached all the presented documents to the case.
“BHC has already had experience of court cases, when the court seems to act in accordance with all regulations of judicial practice, but the verdict is made regardless of the whole judicial process, -- says Tatsiana Protska. – The respondents demonstrated straightforward mockery in court, because they were sure they would win the case. I asked Yury Prakopaw if he made such programs because of his own beliefs or he executed someone’s order. He answered this was the policy of the Belarusian TV company. As it turned out, the court also supports and serves this policy…”
“By such a verdict the court practically recognized that the information ventilated in the program is not a private life secret anymore. Thus, incomes and property is no more a secret, but the information for public use! – sums up BHC deputy chairman Harry Pahaniayla, who represented Protska in court. – It is clear for us today no one can rely on defense of their rights if his interests clash with the interests of an official. Who cares if this right is guaranteed by the Constitution?”
Nevertheless, the plaintiffs plan to appeal to the judicial assembly against the court decision.