EU Will Attentively Watch Charhinets Vs. ‘Novy Chas’ Case
The European Union is watching a libel case against the private newspaper Novy Chas, Cristina Gallach, spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, told the BelaPAN.
‘We have been following this issue very closely, and with increasing concern. The importance of the freedom of media is one of the key issues the European Union has repeatedly raised with the Belarusian authorities,’ she said.
Mikalai Charhinets, a senior member of the Belarusian National Assembly’s Soviet of the Republic, has filed the 600-million-rubel libel suit against the newspaper over a story that was run on 24 September 24 under the headline ‘Senator General Charhinets’.
‘These demands are clearly excessive. They witness that it is a politically motivated case, aimed at closing down Novy Chas,’ Ms. Gallach said. ‘We will follow closely the court proceedings tomorrow, and hope that they will be conducted with Belarus' international commitments on the freedom of expression and the media in mind’.
Mr. Charhinets considers as libel the journalist Aliaksandr Tamkovich's remarks that he had been appointed the chairman of the ‘pro-governmental’ union of writers, the Union of Writers of Belarus, and that the seat on the Soviet of the Republic meant not only a good wage but also foreign trips to him.
The chairman of the upper chamber's Committee on International Affairs and National Security demands 500 million rubles as compensation from the newspaper's founders and 100 million rubles – from the author of the article. He also wants the bank accounts of the private Chas Navin publishing house that prints the newspaper to be blocked.
The chief editor of the newspaper Aliaksei Karol links the suit with Mr. Charhinets’ sole intention to close down the paper.