Krychau independent newspaper accused of libel
The Cherykau-based mobile mechanized column № 280 accuses the Krychau independent newspaper “Volny Horad” ("Free Town") of defamation. The facts stated in the complaint by the enterprise’s accountant are being checked by Krychau police. The allegations were also sent to Cherykau district prosecutor’s office, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.
On March 18 Krychau district police summoned for an explanation the founder of the newspaper Uladzimir Kudrautsau and chief editor Siarhei Niarouny. The journalists say the reason for the statement submitted to the prosecutor’s office was the publication entitled “Bondslaves” in the February issue of the newspaper.
“According to Major Dziubanau of Krychau police department, we slandered mobile mechanized column № 280. The article said that the administration of the state-owned enterprise did not pay wages to its workers for three months. The complainant believes that this is a slander on the company,” says Siarhei Niarouny. The journalist says the complaint is an attempt to avenge “Volny Horad” for criticism of the authorities.
“If the MMC wished to act according to the law on the mass media, it could appeal to the editor demanding to publish a retraction. The newspaper publishes our contact phone numbers. And the conflict would have been settled. However, the complainant appealed to Cherykau prosecutor. This gives reason to say that it is political pressure for our criticism of Cherykau officials. This is revenge by law enforcement authorities,” says Siarhei Niarouny.
The company’s accountant Anzhela Simakova insists that the newspaper slandered the MMC. The complainant does not have any financial claims to the newspaper, but demands refutation. She said she would sue the journalists if needed.
“They did not just insult me personally, but our organization, too. They did not cause any material damage to me, but only moral one. The publication is an absolute lie. We pay wages on time, and not the way they wrote that were had not paid for three months. If they came to me, I would show them everything. We are a state organization and open to everyone. I submitted all the documentation on the wages to the prosecutor's office,” explains Anzhela Simakova.
A short article “Bondslaves” was written according to oral information provided by the wife of an employee of the MMC who phoned the editors of “Free Town”. As the publication suggests, she said that her husband could not receive payment for three months. She asked for help. The article says that she was advised to apply for assistance to the labor inspection.