Belsat Journalist Fined for Work
On May 27 an administrative case was heard in the Karelichy district court (Hrodna region). Ales' Zaleuski was summoned to court on May 19. He petitioned to adjourn the hearing in order to get familiarized with case materials. It should be mentioned that the process went along with a number of procedural violations: the journalist had not seen the administrative report before the invitation to court, he had not received an official summons, but only was invited by phone, and this happened only a day before the first hearing.
He was found guilty of violating administrative article 22.9 – unlawful production and dissemination of mass media products – and fined for 30 basic amounts (450$).
Remarkably, this is the third case in the Hrodna region: on April 4, Ales' Dzianisau was fined for the same sum under the same charges; on May 15, a similar report was drawn up against Andrei Mialeshka.
BAJ lawyers thinks that this way authorities in the Hrodna region decided to try their hand with the recently introduced 22.9 article. In fact, the law should be inapplicable against individual journalists but rather against editorial offices of mass media who are leagl entities and produce and disseminate the final product. And of course, this is incompatible with the Constitution's guarantee of the right to gather and disseminate information.
Belsat TV channel is a satellite television, part of the Polish TVP company, broadcasting Belarus-oriented content to Belarus from Poland. The channel have applied several times for accreditation, but to no avail. Belarusian journalists who provide content for the channel are often prevented from work, warned or fined. The same story with the Radio Racyja.