The Kurier iz Borisova newspaper shut down by the authorities
On 24 August the Economic Court of Minsk Region granted the suit filed by Minsk Region Executive Committee, which requested the liquidation of TDA Press-Service that is the founder of the Kurier iz Borisova, reported the press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists. The company is to be liquidated before 1 January next year.
The suit was filed on 17 June. The violations established by Minsk Region Executive Committee consisted in the following facts: the Charter of the Press Service did not indicate the goals and objectives of the outlet published (Kurier iz Borisova), the labor rights of the staff and other provisions that, under the law, should be specified in the charter of the media editorial office, though at that time the functions of the editorial office were performed by another legal entity and, correspondingly, the TDA Charter did not have mention of that.
Judge Tamara Benchuk sided with the regional executive committee and ruled to void the registration issued to Press-service, appoint the receivership commission and liquidate the company before 1 January 2006. After the decision takes effect, the management functions would be transferred to the head of the receivership commission. (What should be noted is that the head of the ideology department of Minsk Regional Executive Committee was appointed the head of the receivership commission for the economic entity). The defendants can within 15 days appeal against the ruling in the appeals section of Minsk Regional Economic Court.
The newspaper's editorial office believes the court ruling to be a political order. "The situation that could be observed recently was a rare one for Belarus: one region simultaneously had two independent newspapers (Kurier iz Borisova and Borisovskiye novosti) whose circulation was 7 times as large as that of the official local newspaper Adzinstva. Naturally, this situation could not keep the authorities happy", believes the newspaper correspondent Paviel Mahilin. The journalists believe that the real motives for the moves undertaken by Minsk Regional Executive Committee could be understood from the suit that says that the work of TDA Press-service is against the state and public interests.
The deputy chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Bastuniets comments as follows: "In my opinion, the decision to liquidate TDA Press-service is similar to the 2003 September liquidation of TAA Mestnoye vremia-press, the cancellation of the registration certificate of the Novaia gazeta Smorgoni's publisher Ramuald Ulan in February 2003, and also the recent liquidation of TDA Dienpress. In all of these cases the authorities exerted pressure on the media through their publishers, taking advantage of the flaws in the Belarusian legislation and the "Belarus-specific use" of it.