The Ministry of Information pronounced a warning and stopped the activity of “Birzha infarmacyi”, an independent newspaper in Horadnia.
The sanctions were applied in relation to the publication of an article devoted to the referendum for which the chief editor of the newspaper, Alena Raubetskaj, was charged with 70 base amounts (more than 500 euros).
Belarusian Association of Journalists informed about that.
The Ministry decided that in the article with the title “Betrayal in the name of people” (#36, September 9, 2004) articles 5, 32 and 40 of the Law on Press were violated. In the order about the abeyance of the activity of the newspaper and in the warning it is said that “the publication contains unreal information which does not reflect legal base of the appointed Referendum and dishonors the President of the Republic of Belarus”.
The chief editor of the newspaper, Raubetskaja, has already been called to an account in accordance with part 10 of article 172-1 of the Code of Administrative Violations. The court considered the following abstract to be wittingly false information: “The Referendum (without which this is impossible to get the third term) declared by the President is a challenge to the society. One should possess not only the absence of conscience but also master’s disregard to the mob and absolute assurance in the fact that the people do not understand anything”. Raubetskaja and her representatives in the court claimed that this phrase does not contain any information besides the fact that the referendum had been appointed and and that is presents personal point of view of the journalist.
On September 30, 2004 Raubetskaja was charged with 70 base amounts (more than 500 euros) and by the end of November has already paid out a half of the penalty.
The Chief Editor is sure that the newspaper was held up before the very subscription period in order the newspaper lost its public. “I do not know how to hold the room, employees and readers during these three months”, stated Raubetskaja. She is indignant about the fact that the order about the abeyance was signed at the same time with the warning though the newspaper has a right to appeal the latter within a month.
Mikhail Pastuhou, the leader of the Center of legal support for the press within the Belarusian Association of Journalists, considers the event to be the continuation of the war against the press which started before the Referendum and elections.
“The authorities continue to punish with the publications which dared to include critical approaches to the question put for the Referendum”, Pastukhou thinks.