Publisher of independent newspaper in Kryčaŭ accused of slandering police officer
On April 23, Uladzimir Kudrautsau, the publisher of the Kryčaŭ-based independent newspaper Voĺny horad (“Free City”), was summoned to the local police station to face administrative charges.
In particular, head of the local police department Lieutenant Colonel Vusik wrote in the violation report that “on 05/04/2015 at 13:00 Kudrautsau U.V., being the publisher of the newspaper Voĺny horad, disseminated a knowingly defamatory fabrication against a detective of the economic crimes office of the Kryčaŭ police department Dziameshka A.V., who threatened him with criminal prosecution for libel in the proceedings opened as a result of his statement against the head of the department of ideology, culture and youth affairs of the Kryčaŭ district executive committee”.
As a result, the publisher faced charges under Article 9.2. of the Administrative Code (“slander”), which provides for a fine of 10 to 30 base units. Uladzimir Kudrautsau disagreed with the charges.
According to the journalist, the charges stem from several publications that appear on various Internet resources, which told about his attempts to prosecute the official.
It is not clear why the police decided to prosecute the publisher now, since the statement to the prosecutor of Kryčaŭ district was sent back on 16 December 2014.
In his statement, Uladzimir Kudrautsau, in particular, wrote that “on 21 November 2014, while exercising my constitutional right, I asked the prosecutor of Kryčaŭ district to open a probe against the chief of department of ideology, culture and youth affairs Ms. Maksimava, according to information obtained by the newspaper Voĺny horad from its readers. On the same day, the prosecutor sent my statement to the Kryčaŭ police department to conduct a probe in accordance with Article 174 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. After that, on a number of occasions I provided senior detective Aliaksandr Dziameshka with additional information concerning my statement. There were episodes, names of the persons, attempts by M. Maksimava to prevent the negative results of the probe. However, instead of thanking me for my civic stand to protect the rights and legitimate interests of many citizens, he threatened me with a criminal case for alleged libel. I think this behavior is unacceptable for a policeman,” wrote the publisher in his letter to the prosecutor.
The journalists of the newspaper are convinced that the administrative charges against the publisher are aimed to intimidate, so that the newspaper ceased to publish critical materials in respect of employees of local law enforcement and executive bodies.