Rahachou activist seeks prosecution of state-run weekly on libel charges
Civil activist Dzianis Dashkevich is urging the police department of the town of Rahachou (Homel region) to open a criminal case against the chief editor of local state-owned newspaper called “The Svabodnaye Slova” (“Free Word”) for a number of offensive publications and libel.
The district weekly launched a smear campaign against the opposition activist, calling him a “clown” and a “criminal” and threatening the activist with imprisonment.
“If the police say that the expressions "homo”, “fool”, “clown” and “moron” are not an insult, then not only the pro-democracy activists, but also all the people of the district will have the legal right to express themselves in this way in addressing, for example, the authorities,” says Dzianis Dashkevich.
Last week, the activist was found guilty of alleged copyright infringement following a lawsuit by “The Svabodnaye Slova” office. Dzianis Dashkevich was fined 3 mln. rubles. However, the Judge failed to specify the article the activist was convicted under. Nor did he mention the offence the defendant allegedly committed.
Dzianis Dashkevich, who was the creator of the vrogacheve.ru news site, was prosecuted after the editorial board of the district’s government newspaper addressed the police with a statement, saying that vrogacheve.ru allegedly reprinted news from the site of the district newspaper, thus violating the copyrights of the state reporters. The news reportedly “stolen” by the activist was a hospital’s summary on frostbitten residents of the district center last winter and criminal information by the local police. Apart from that, the newspaper’s office and the police were trying to prove in court that Dzianis Dashkevich was the administrator of the vrogacheve.ru website. “The court failed to prove this by any documents, no one sent any requests, the court merely “appointed” me administrator. As for the bulletins by the hospital and the police, how could a correspondent for the local newspaper be the author of the article and how “copyright” might have been violated?” says Dzianis Dashkevich.