Freelance journalists Natallia Kryvashei and Kanstatnsin Zhukouski get fined
According to the Belarusian Association of Journalists, Rahačoŭ District Court Judge Aliaksandr Krainikau found freelance journalists Natallia Kryvashei and Kanstatnsin Zhukouski guikty of the illicit manufacture of media products for satellite TV channel "Belsat" and fined them 35 basic units (6.3 million rubles) under Art. 22.9, part 2 of Code of Administrative Offenses.
The reason for the fines were the violation reports, drawn up by the head of the division of law enforcement and prevention of the Rahačoŭ District Police Department, Lieutenant Colonel Yury Astapovich.
The report reads: “May 12 at the site near the shop “Proxmix” in Bahatyroŭ Street in Rahačoŭ, Kanstantsin Zhukouski and Natallia Kryvashei interviewed citizens, without having accreditation in the Republic of Belarus as journalists for foreign media. Thereby, they illegally manufactured media products, namely a report titled “Sour taste of the crisis. Why does Rahačoŭ condensed milk remains in the warehouses?"... The video was shown on May 14" on the TV channel "Belsat" of the Polish Republic, in the program “Objective”, and then placed posted on the official website of the channel, in violation of provisions of Art. 35, part 4 of the Law "On Mass Media"."
Neither Kryvashei nor Zhukouski attended the trial, which took place on July 2, being served no writs. As explained to Judge Kraikou to the monitoring service of the BAJ, the court allegedly have the right to inform the concerned parties about the court hearings via SMS-messages.
"One couldn't expect anything else from the courts”, commented Natallia Kryvashei. “There country is in a crisis, and the security services, police and courts have found a relatives easy way to fill the budget – by fining social activists and freelance journalists.”
Ms. Kryvashei also noted that Art. 4 of Article 35 of the Law "On Mass Media" refers to the professional activities of journalists of foreign mass media without accreditation in Belarus, while she wasn't a staff journalist for a foreign media, as she hadn't entered into a contract with any foreign media including “Belsat”. She was just gathering information as a citizen of Belarus, being guaranteed this right by the Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, ratified by Belarus.
This was already the fourth such trial for Natallia Kryvashei and the seventh one for Kastus Zhukouski (six trials were on charges of violating Art. 22.9, part 2 of the CAV and one – Art. 23.34). All in all, Natallia has to pay to the budget 24.3 million rubles, and Kastus Zhukouski – 31.5 mln rubles.
This year, freelance journalists have been fined under Art. 22.9 of the Administrative Code 24 times already. The total sum of fines exceeds 124 mln rubles.