Persecution of freelance journalists – $7,067 for state budget
Since the beginning of 2015, there were 21 administrative cases against freelance journalists who faced charges under Part. 2, Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code – “Illegal production and (or) distribution of media products.” In each case, there was a court decision to impose a fine of 3.6 to 9 mln rubles. Thus, the total amount of fines for the first half-year amounted to 108.18 million Belarusian rubles (USD 7,067), which is already two times the amount of fines for the entire 2014.
Most often journalists were convicted in the Homieĺ region – 10 administrative cases. Of these, 5 times – a total of 135 basic units – courts fined Kanstantsin Zhukouski. 130 basic units were paid to the state budget by a freelance journalist from Brest Alina Litvinchuk.
It is known that on 9 and 10 July the Hlybokaje District Court will host trials of journalists Dzmitry Lupach and Tatsiana Smotkina.
“We cannot say anymore that the administrative harassment of journalists continues. It is evident that pressure on journalists has increased. Some representatives of independent media it actually means a ban on their professional activity. We can associate so much pressure with the presidential election and view it as an attempt to control the media space. In this regard, we note that the overall background is extremely unfavorable, including due to the persecution of independent journalists,” says deputy chairman of the Human Rights Center “Viasna” Valiantsin Stefanovich.