Homel freelance journalist Larysa Shchyrakova fined third time this year
Judge of the Rečyca District Court Sviatlana Purkh found Homel freelance journalist, member of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Larysa Shchyrakova guilty of "illicit manufacture and distribution of media products" and sentenced her to a fine of 4.5 million rubles on the basis of Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses.
According to the ruling, on February 6 at Slavianski market in Rečyca, Shchyrakova, “not being a journalist for a mass media and having no right for it, interviewed citizens and prepared a video titled "Administration of the market in Rečyca robbing merchants" (published at the website of the TV channel “BelSat” the same day), thus illegally producing and distributing a mass media."
According to the court, Larysa Shchyrakova made the same violation on February 12 by preparing the video "Inhumane conditions atRečyca market" which was also posted at BelSat website. That case was considered at the end of March in journalist's absence – she was abroad and filed an appropriate appeal to the court.
"It seems that the judges live in some virtual world, thinking that journalistscan publish anywhere anything they want with the help of a magic wand – be it BelSat, CNN or the Washington Post. How can I publish something, if I do not have access to the website of "BelSat"? I as a citizen and a freelancer, I have the right to gather and disseminate information according to the Constitution. However, the court assigns me the functions of a legal body – in this case, the TV channel “BelSat”, which really produces media products and distributes them,” commented the journalist to the monitoring service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists.
"They help stripping media field before the presidential election”, she said. “The economy is sinking, the social contract is not fulfilled, and therefore they hit people with the ruble, forcing them to silence.”
This is already the third fine to Larysa Shchyrakova this year. In January she shot on video a one-man picket conducted by a wheelchair user in Svetlahorsk, as a result of which she was charged with taking part in an unauthorized mass event and was punished with a fine. On March 12, Judge of the Tsentralny District Court of Homel Viktar Kazachok fined her 20 basic units for alleged production of “media products” for the TV channel "BelSat" without accreditation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thus, the total amount of fines to the journalist is currently 8 million rubles.