Zhytkavichy District Court Abolishes Fine to Chief Editor of Volnyia Naviny Mikhail Kozel
According to the BAJ press-service
On 6 May the judge of Zhytkavichy District Court Hanna Babenka reversed the decision of the administrative commission of Zhytkavichy District Executive Committee to fine the chief editor of the newspaper Volnyia naviny, member of the United Civil Party Mikalai Kozel 62 000 rubles.
The matter is that Mr Kozel placed in his newspaper (which is not registered, because it has the circulation of 299 copies) the following: ?#152;I sincerely congratulate the chair of Zhytkavichy DEC Piatro Savitski, the vice-chair of Uladzimir Huliuta and the chair of the ideological department Ihar Nikifarau on the renewal of the issue of the newspaper Volnyia naviny’.
U.Huliuta and I.Nikifarau considered this congratulation insulting and applied to the administrative commission, asking to fine M.Kozel. The administrative commission decided that he ?#152;violated part 3 of article #172 by production in December 2005 the printed editions the content of which inflicted moral harm and insult as to private person and state official to U.Huliuta and I.Nikifarau’.
Mikhail Kozel argued against the decision of the commission and explained that part 3 of article #172 of the Code of Administrative Violations concerns the issue data and the content of the printed editions that are directed at making harm to the state and public order, the rights and legal interests of citizens. However, his newspaper had the imprint and the congratulations to the state officials could by no means be harmful to them.
Three court sittings took place. The chair of the administrative commission of Zhytkavichy District Executive Committee Mikalai Korshun stated he was not a specialist in the field of legislation on mass media. The chair of the ideological department Nikifarau stated that he, being a state official, considered as insult that the congratulation was printed in the newspaper that also contained the surname of an oppositional candidate to presidency. The vice-chair of the DEC Huliuta explained that he was insulted because his duty position was mentioned.
Having considered the arguments of the sides, the judge Babenka considered the ruling of the administrative commission groundless. It is still not known whether the commission won’t look for new arguments to punish the editor.