Freelance journalist in Homel charges with “illegal production of media products”
On March 26, Viktar Stsepanenka, head of the department of public order and prevention of the police department of Chyhunachny district of Homel, charged local freelance journalist Kanstantsin Zhukouski under Part 2 of Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal manufacture of media products). He was accused of working without accreditation when shooting with a camcorder on February 5 on the territory of school No. 12. The video footage was later aired on the Belsat TV channel as a story entitled “Educators and doctors punished for child’s death”. Police officers interviewed the teachers who were on the video and they testified that the video was shot by Kanstantsin Zhukouski.
Now the freelance journalist is awaiting a trial.
The journalist is sure that he did not break the law, because the country's basic law – the Constitution –guarantees citizens of Belarus the right to gather and disseminate information. “I told the police officer that he had violated the Constitution and discredited our country at the international level, and at a time when the head of the country attempts to improve relations with the European Union. And a local "fifth column" represented by our government and police interfere with the head of state, harassing people for exercising their constitutional right to gather and disseminate information,” says Kanstantsin Zhukouski.
It is not his first punishment for journalistic activities. In particular, in January 2015, the Svetlahorsk District Court sentenced journalists Larysa Schyrakova and Kanstantsin Zhukouski to a fine of 900 thousand rubles each for alleged participation in a picket. In fact, the journalists were covering the protest staged by local activist Yury Liashenka. The court then concluded that the journalists knew about the picket in advance and “knowingly provided assistance in filming the picket and were present together in a forbidden place”.