“Narodnaya Volia” is at law with Information Ministry over Kalinkina’s article
On January 14 the preliminary court hearing in the case opened by “Narodnaya Volia” newspaper against the Information Ministry will take place.
On January 14 the Supreme Court is to entertain the suit of “Narodnaya Volia” newspaper against the Information Ministry of Belarus, which had issued an official warning to the newspaper for an article “Chained Up”. The editorial office demands to lift this warning.
As the website of the Supreme Court informs, the point of the argument is the legal character of legislative instruments, actions of state agencies, state officials.
The news editor of “Narodnaya Volia” Sviatlana Kalinkina explained to the reporter of Radio Svaboda that the preliminary court hearing is to take place tomorrow.
- The Information Ministry issued a warning to the newspaper for my column, which touched upon Belarus’ joining the Eurasian Union. We think that this warning should be annulled, as it is completely groundless. In its warning the Information Ministry states that we had misled readers by writing that Belarus would not be able to leave this union, if there would be such a desire. And we have a different opinion after reading the agreement on creation of the Eurasian Union. But in any case, opinions may be factually accurate or not. They could be challenged. No one argued with us, but they decided to punish us for expressing our concern over the independence of Belarus. it seems to me that in general it is unacceptable for a state agency, to punish for a concern over the interests of the state.
- How would you evaluate the chances to prevail in the action against the Information Ministry?
- It is hard to say. If the Information Ministry is simply getting ready for the presidential election and wants to keep the independent media in the state of suspense, in order to have an opportunity to close them before the election in some situation, it is one thing. Then our arguments would not be heard to, as well as arguments of prominent lawyers, and they are going to overpress their point. If the ministry is going to be a really neutral state authority, they should listen to our arguments. It is an unprecedented case. The mass media outlet is punished not for a mistake about some person or published inaccurate information about some firm. But we were concerned for our country not to be forced into a trap and to remain an independent state, which would make decisions at home independently. And it is an unprecedented occurrence to punish for that.
It is the second warning, which has been received by “Narodnaya Volia” newspaper. The first one was issued in August 2014. It concerned the open letter of the wife of the former head physician of the district hospital in Kastsiukovichy, who was on trial. The wife wrote in her letter about the case and how it was interrogated. However state authorities found that publication of the letter meant a pressure on the court. Now the newspaper is warned again. According to the Belarusian laws, it could result in annulment of the licence of the newspaper.