Public organization vs. Belarusian TV: Minsk City Court Restores “Justice”
According to BAJ press-service
On 9 November the Presidium of Minsk City Court satisfied the protest of Aliaksandr Fiedartsou, vice-chair of the Supreme Court and reversed the verdict of Minsk Piershamaiski Borough Court according to which Belarusian State TV and Radio Company had to reprove the information concerning the public association Will for Development that was spread by Panarama program.
On 14 February Minsk Piershamaiski Borough Court headed by Judge Lidzia Tsielitsa partially satisfied the suit of the PA Will for Development (based in the town of Slonim) against Belarusian State TV and Radio Company concerning protection of business reputation.
The court considered false and insulting the information about the organization that was distributed on 16 March 2004 in the evening issue of Panarama program and obliged Belarusian State TV and Radio Company disprove it. (In this program the journalist Mikalai Mialiachenka stated that “according to some information, … Mr. Varaniets established so called resource center with the aim to finance oppositional structures… As a result he committed considerable tax violations and didn’t provide the correct taxation…”, “… if foreign Funds don’t support this misfit businessman, his suspicious activity will stop”.)
However, Belarusian State TV and Radio Company refused to disprove its information, trying to complain against the court verdict. Even after the cassation instance upheld the verdict, the state TV didn’t obey to it and was fined for it on 24 August.
On 20 October A. Fiedartsou, first vice-chair of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus protested against the verdict to the Presidium of Minsk City Court, asking to reverse it as lawless and groundless. He considered the expressions of the journalist Mieliachenka as “private opinion”. Commenting on the decision of the Presidium, M. Varaniets said that if the court had punished the shameless propagandists, they wouldn’t execute such orders so readily.