Brest Regional Court dismisses journalists’ appeals
Judge Natallia Surma of the Brest Regional Court has dismissed the appeals of independent journalists Ales Liauchuk and Tamara Shchapiotkina, who in December 2014 were fined 40 and 30 basic units, respectively, on charges of violating Part 2, Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code. At the same time, the journalists were accused of collaboration with foreign media without accreditation, although the content of the article which they allegedly violated was quite different: violation of the established order of distribution of obligatory free copies of periodicals, distribution of erotic publications, publication of a refutation in mass media, as well as illegal manufacture and (or) distribution of media products. It was the last sentence – illegal manufacture and (or) distribution of media products – that the judge interpreted as work without accreditation.
According to BAJ lawyer Andrei Bastunets, the last part of the article means illegal manufacture and distribution of media, which has nothing to do with a journalist, because he or she collects, edits and creates information for the publisher. It is the editorial office that produces media products, and it is the editorial office only who can commit a violation of the manufacture of media products, but not a journalist.
Ales Liauchuk and Tamara Shchapiotkina tried to convey this idea to Judge Natallia Surma, but the judge decided that the courts of first instance gave a proper assessment of the collected material and came to reasonable conclusions about an offense under Article 22.9, Part 2 of the Administrative Code.
The journalists are going to appeal against the decision of the Brest Regional Court.