KGB Head States Foreign Mass Media Would Be Deprived of Accreditation and Deported For Knowingly False Information about Belarus

2005 2005-12-02T10:00:00+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

During the meeting with journalists on 2 December the head of Belarusian KGB Stsiapan Sukharenka commented on the draft law about increased punishment for actions “against individual and public security” that was adopted by the Chamber of Representatives in the second reading. According to Charter’97, he advised to the Belarusian journalists for worked for foreign mass media to “read the law and think”.

-- We didn’t pursue the aim to limit somebody’s activity, we only want it to be civilized, law-obedient and non-harmful to the state interests, -- he stated.

The adopted document, provides, for instance, amendment of the Criminal Code with the article “Discrediting of the Republic of Belarus”, which includes “presentation to a foreign State or international organization knowingly false information about the political, economical and social situation in Belarus, the legal status of citizens which discredits the country and the power structures”, -- BelTA reports. Such actions are punished with up to 6 months of arrest or up to 2 years of jail.

The well-known Belarusian human rights activist Barys Zvoskau, graduate of the Supreme International Court on Human Rights Protection, believes that Belarusian citizens, including journalists, don’t have any mechanisms of defense against such accusations:
-- If we had civilized juridical norms, we would be able to argue such charges. Pitifully enough, it will be impossible to defend from such accusations in the conditions of present Belarus, -- he said.

The lawyer of Belarusian Helsinki Committee Alieh Hulak said:
-- I think only international solidarity and human wisdom can be opposed to it, as it is hard to rely on our courts in this situation. On the other hand, it seems to me this article is more aimed at intimidation than real persecution. It will be quite problematic for the authorities to prove in court that the information distributed by anyone is “knowingly false”, that’s why we would hardly see extensive practical use of this article.