BelTA case: two journalists discharged, chief editor faces graver charges

2018 2018-11-23T13:25:37+0300 2018-11-23T13:28:21+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
Pauliuk Bykouski. Photo:

Pauliuk Bykouski. Photo:

Pauliuk Bykouski, Deutsche Welle reporter in Belarus, has been exempted from criminal charges of illegal access to the closed news feed of the government-owned BelTA agency, and will be tried on administrative charges, instead. Criminal charges have also been dropped against Uladzislau Kuletski, editor of the website.

Meanwhile, Maryna Zolatava, editor-in-chief of the news portal, has faced charges of “administrative negligence” (Art. 425, Part 2 of the Criminal Code) for failing to react to her employees’ misbehavior. If found guilty, she may be fined or imprisoned for up to 5 years.

Earlier, Zolatava was named a suspect of committing “unauthorized access to digital information” (Art. 349, Part 2 of the Criminal Code), but never faced official charges.

Zolatava was also offered to pay 13,500 rubles (USD 6,440) in damages for the offense she allegedly committed. chief editor Maryna Zolatava shortly after release. Photo: chief editor Maryna Zolatava shortly after release on August 10, 2018. Photo:

The total amount of “property damage” BelTA reportedly suffered is 70,500 rubles (USD 33,500), according to the Investigative Committee.

In early November, the authorities officially charged other journalists involved in the case. The journalists and editors allegedly “deliberately out of mercenary and other personal interests committed unauthorized access to computer information stored in the computer system and the network of the BelTA unitary enterprise, which was accompanied by a violation of the protection system and caused, through carelessness, other significant harm.”

All of them received compensation claims and are expected to pay 3 to 17 thousand rubles.