Another journalist fined in Hlybokaje
The Hlybokaje District Court has found journalist Tatsiana Smotkina guilty under Part 2 of Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal production and distribution of media products).
The charges were heard by judge Liudmila Vashchanka. The journalist petitioned that the trial was held in the Belarusian language, but this request was rejected. A witness for the prosecution, an employee of the district executive committee, whose words were quoted in an article by Tatsiana Smotkina, did not appear in court.
The charges stemmed from a publication entitled “Roads in Hlybokaje to Turn Positive,” which on June 9 was posted on the website of Radio Racyja. According to the charge, the journalist is not accredited as a foreign correspondent, and therefore violates the law on the media while performing her professional activity.
“Judge Liudmila Vashchanka asked me a lot of strange, in my opinion, questions. For example, why I'm working as a journalist, who advised me to do it, or if I am ordered to write articles on specific topics, and how much I get for it. I simply refused to answer most of these questions, as they had nothing to do with the case,” said Tatsiana Smotkina.
As follows from the case file, it was initiated by the Prosecutor's Office of Hlybokaje: this authority requested that the police inspected the work of Mrs. Smotkina. On June 25, a senior inspector of the department of law enforcement and prevention of the district police department submitted an offense report for cooperation with foreign media without accreditation. However, Tatsiana Smotkina believes that under the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus, every citizen has the right to receive information and share it with others. That’s what she told in court.
The court decision of a fine of 4.5 million rubles will be challenge in the Viciebsk Regional Court.
A similar appeal is being prepared by another freelance journalist in Hlybokaje, Dzmitry Lupach. On July 23, the District Court also fined him 25 basic units on the same charges – cooperating with foreign media without accreditation.