Freelance journalist Kanstantsin Zhukouski to stand trial in Naroŭlia
On April 17, Kanstantsin Zhukouski, a freelance journalist in Homiel, received an administrative violation report submitted against him by employees of the Naroŭlia district police department. “On March 12, K.I. Zhukouski, without appropriate accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the implementation of activities of a journalist, illegally interviewed residents of the village of Buda-Haloŭčyckaja, thereby was unlawfully engaged in the production of media products, namely a story “Elderly people have to pay for their houses four times more”, which was broadcast on the TV channel “Belsat”, say the charges. Police officers believe that with such actions the journalist violated Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal manufacturing of media products).
“As a freelance journalist, I make stories about the issues that directly affect ordinary citizens of Belarus. And it is this very truth about how people live that officials avoid like the plague. By these charges, the authorities prove their inaction - that they cannot do anything about the heaps of problems, but can only bite those who speak about it, thus discrediting themselves not only in Belarus, but also in the international arena,” said Kanstantsin Zhukouski.
On April 2, Judge Mikalai Bakunou of the Homiel Čyhunačny District Court found the journalist guilty of violating part 2 of Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code and punished him with a fine of 30 basic units (5.4 million rubles).
The administrative charges said that on February 5Kanstantsin Zhukouski illegally filmed employees of Homiel school No. 12, and on February 6 Belsat TV channel aired a story about a revenge of local authorities for the death of a 3-month girl.
At the trial, the freelancer said that under Article 34 of the Constitution he had the right to collect and disseminate information. It was this right that he exercised when filming the school staff. According to him, he posted the video on Youtube, and the material could be used by anyone. He also said that he could not "unlawfully manufacture products media" because he did not work for any media, while the story mentioned a completely different personas its author.