Fines for Distribution of Low-Circulation Press
Uladzimir Shulzhytski was found guilty of violating art. 22.9, part 2 of the Administrative Code – “illegal distribution of mass media products”. In court’s opinion, the distributor should have concluded a contract with the editorial office for distribution.
The bulletin publisher as well as lawyers of BAJ and the local human rights defender Aliaksandr Dzerhachou think that such accusation is absurd. Print periodicals with a circulation below 300 copies do not require legal registration, thus their editorial offices do not have to register as a legal entity. So, there was no one to conclude contracts with.
Uladzimir Shulzhytski was detained on March 20 in a town of Smarhon (Hrodna region) with 31 copies of the bulletin. On the same day, the police searched the distributor’s flat where one more copy of the bulletin was found. On March 25, the distributor was searched and now fined.
This is not the first case of bringing distributors of low-circulation press to administrative liability. BAJ member Heorhi Stankevich from Beshankovichy (Vitebsk region) has been three times fined for distribution of low-circulation self-published Kryvinka newspaper. The third time he was fined at the beginning of April this year, with a fine of 7 million rubles (50 basic amounts, or around $700, the maximum fine under the same article 22.9, part 2).