Homieĺ court fines journalist for ‘illegal production of media products’
On January 12, the Homieĺ District Court sentenced local journalist Larysa Shchyrakova to a fine of 4.6 mln rubles on charges of violating Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code (illegal manufacture of media products, and working without accreditation for foreign media).
Larysa Shchyrakova plead not guilty saying that working for foreign media without accreditation, for which she was convicted, was not subject to administrative punishment. As for the charge dealing with illicit manufacture of media products, she stressed that the products could only be produced by the media, rather than the journalists. The freelancer is not employed by any editorial office, so the rules of Law "On Mass Media should not apply to her. Ms. Shchyrakova reminded about the right to gather and disseminate information, as guaranteed by the Constitution. But all these arguments had no effect on the court’s ruling.
In late December and early January, local freelance journalists faced several charges under Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code for working without accreditation. In particular, Kanstantsin Zhukouski was charged three times.
Leaders of the Belarusian Association of Journalists wrote to President’s Administration asking to address the harassment of journalists. The NGO urged the authorities to contribute to the eradication of the practice of undue interference in the work of journalists.