Freelance journalists Volha Chaichyts and Siarhei Krauchuk get fined 30 basic units
Judge Shaiko of the Dziaržynsk District Court decided to fine the journalist Volha Chaichyts for violation of Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code, Part 2, 30 basic units or 5.4million rubles. Siarhei Krauchuk was fined the same amount, too.
The hearing was attended by about 20 journalists, including the chairman of the Belarusian Association of Journalists Andrei Bastunets, his deputy Mikhail Yanchuk and press-secretary of the organization Barys Haretski.
All interested persons were let in the court hall, but the judge prohibited recording the proceedings on video and audio and dismissed Volcha Chaichyts' motion for leading the trial in Belarusian.
Both journalists were charged with violating Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code, "illegal production and distribution of media products" for making a report about the non-admission of the shooting crew to the public discussion of the general plan for the town of Fanipaĺ ( Dziaržynsk district of Minsk region). Fanipaĺ police printed out the text and images of the report from the website of “BelSat” and accused the journalists of working for foreign media without having the appropriate accreditation.
Volha Chaichyts stated at the trial that she had only collected the information, but hadn't placed it at the website of “BelSat”, as she wasn't its employee, therefore the charges of “production and dissemination of media products” were inappropriate. He defense lawyer Katsiaryna Piatrovich insisted that the journalist should be declared innocent, as there was no evidence of her work for foreign mass media without accreditation.
According to estimates of the NGO "Belarusian Association of Journalists", in 2015 Belarusian journalists have been found guilty of violating Article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offenses 16 times already and the total amount of the imposed fines exceeds 70 million rubles.