Mahiliou Regional Court turns down appeal by independent newspaper in Krychau
On December 21,the judicial board on civil cases of the Mahiliou Regional Court rejected an appeal of Uladzimir Kudrautsau,the publisher of newspaper Volny Horad, against a decision of theKrychauDistrict Courttaken on December 8 at the suit of the chief of department of ideology, culture and youth affairs of the Krychaudistrict executive committee Maryna Maksimava for the protection of honor, dignity and business reputation.
Judge Sviatlana Stelmakhova said in her decision that the verdict by the District Court remained in force, as information in the article “Not in her chair?”published on the website and in the newspaper Volny Horad on September 14about Maryna Maksimava were offensive and defamedher honor and dignity.
The judicial board did not take into account the arguments of the newspaper’s editor Siarhei Niarouny and author of the article MikalaiHerdziythat the publication contained no offense of Ms. Maksimava as an individual. The proverb mentioned in the article was meant to show that the person did not know her work well enough. The ideology division of the executive committee and the local district newspaper Krychauskaye Zhytstsio paid almost zero attention to the consequences of the collapse of a roof of the local school, though this topic was regularly covered by state-owned TV channels, the BelTA news agency, Sovetskaya Belorussiya and other state-owned newspapers.
Volny Horad’s editor-in-chiefsays that the journalists cannot agree with the findings of both courtsand will surelyprepare a supervisory appeal.
On December 8, Judge Alena Azaranka of the KrychauDistrict Court ruled to recover from the journalists 7,000,000 rublesin moral damages as a compensation for Maryna Maksimava, as well as thecourt fee of 450,000, and the costs associated with the involvement of a counsel in the amount of 3.6 million rubles.
The lawsuit against the independent newspaper stemmed from a publicationof September 14,2014 entitled “Not in her chair?” The article criticized local authorities and government-run newspapers who silenced information about the consequences of the collapse of aroof in one of the town’s schools.