Mikhail Karnevich appeals a fine on Svislach case
December 3, Mikhail Karnevich filed an appeal with Hrodna Regional Court against the verdict of Judge of the Leninski District Court of HrodnaAlena Piatrova), which on November 25 fined him 2,250,000 rubles for allegedly "participating in an unsanctioned rally".
As he stresses in the appeal, he is a formally accredited correspondent of Radio "Liberty" in Belarus and had an editorial assignment to cover the events at the event, for "participation" in which he was convicted. The journalist emphasizes that the court verdict does not even mention that he is a journalist.
Mikhail Karnevich is convinced that by her verdict Judge Piatrova deprived him of the right to work.
“At the beginning of the trial I petitioned for droppting the case, as it could be just a mistake on the part of the police. I showed to the court my journalist certificate, the editorial assignment and a printoutof my article which had been published at the website of Radio "Liberty" the following day.
The judge, of course, did not agree to dismiss the case, but granted the motion to attach my materials to the case. On that day, four people were tried. Everything was quite formal, testimonies were given by the same witnesses... I realized that they did not remember me. Or maybe they were justinstructed not to say what I was doing there. I was walking there and taking photographs. When the judge asked whether I was holding a flag or delivered a speech at the event they answered “he was among the others”.
The judge was confused and did not know what to do. When she was trying all others – she immediately issued a verdict. In my case, she didn't even know what to ask me about, and announced a technical break for 10 minutes. However, five minutes later she returned and announced the decision – a fine of 2,250,000 rubles.
Then I looked at the photos – there were about 40 people, while just 15 people. I think, they appointed who was to be tried, because they could identify everyone.
I think they deliberately chose me and knew who I was when they drew up the violation report. After all, who should be “prepared” to the presidential elections first of all? The press, of course, so that they wouldn't ask any questions then.
This can be also connected to the recent statements of Aliaksandr Lukashenka about Hrodna region – that some other countries have claims on it, and it is necessary to restore the order. I remain almost the only journalist in Hrodno, who is workingwith an official accreditation...
Let us remind that Hrodna members of the NGO "Belarusian Association of Journalists" Mikhail Karnevich and Uladzimir Khilmanovich were found guilty of violating Art. 23.34 of the Administrative Code (violation of the order of organizing or holding mass events) for taking part in the commemoration of the insurgent of the Kalinouski uprising (1863-1964) in the town of Svislach (Hrodna region) on October 26. According to the violation reports, drawn up on November 21, the basis of the charges to Mr. Khilmanovich was that he had been photographed with a white-red-white flag, and to Mikhail Karnevich – that he had “stood near the monument to Kalinouski and moved in an organized group”. Meanwhile, Mr. Karnevich always prepares reports from the memorial day for Radio “Liberty”. That's what he was doing this time, too.