Court in Svetlahorsk convicts journalists on charges of illegal picketing
Homel journalists Larysa Shchyrakova and Kanstantsin Zhukouski, according to a ruling of the Svetlahorsk District Court, are offenders subject to a fine of 900 thousand rubles each. The decision on charges of illegal picketing was taken on January 23. The journalists did not attend the meeting and received the ruling by mail on January 28.
On November 25, a disabled activist Yury Liashenka staged a picket in the central square of Svetlahorsk to protest against violations of the rights of people with disabilities. However, the protester was soon detained by an ambulance. Yury Liashenka was taken to hospital and charged with an administrative offense. The court later punished the activist with a fine.
The picket was covered by the Homel journalists. In late January, the police charged them with alleged participation in the picket. The verdict was based on a video footage, which was provided by police or security services.
The Court concluded that the journalists knew in advance about the picket and “knowingly assisted Yury Liashenka in videotaping the picket, were present in a forbidden place”. The judgment further describes in detail how “Zhukouski videotaped Yury Liashenka and Shchyrakova gave Yury Liashenka a white bundle, which contained a banner with an inscription”. The Court found that the actions of Liashenka and the journalists were agreed. The judge mentioned as aggravating circumstances that the offense was committed by a group of people.
The journalists believe that the court’s ruling was revenge for their professional activities.