Independent journalists face new reprisals
On Friday, August 29, a freelance journalist Maryna Mauchanava, whose articles were published at the website of the TV channel "Belsat", received a summons from the Babruisk police, according to which he needed to come to them as a person charged with violation of the media legislation.
September 1, a similar “invitatio” was received by a Brest journalist of the Belarusian Radio Radio “Racyja" Yauhen Skrabets.
As he told the press service of the "Belarusian Association of Journalists", in the evening of September 31 he received a call from the police and was asked to come to the department, ostensibly to clarify information regarding his publications at the website of the radio station.
According to lawyers, in both cases the authorities are trying to bring journalists to administrative responsibility for working with foreign media without accreditation. The matter is that the both aforementioned media have been trying to obtain such registration from the Belarusian authorities for many years already. It may be just the beginning of a new wave of repression against journalists.
The legal mechanism for this has been tested by the Belarusian judicial system this spring, when three journalists at once were punished with fines under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal production and distribution of media products) in Hrodna region.
This incident was mentioned even in a statement of Representative of the OSCE Office on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, who expressed concern with harassment of journalists and called on the Belarusian authorities not to create artificial obstacles to the activities of the press.