The independent newspaper editor faces three years of restricted freedom
Radio Liberty. On 26 May in Barysau the local court will continue to deal with the case against the editor of the Barysauskiya naviny Anatol Bukas accused of violating the criminal law. If found guilty, Mr. Bukas may either have his freedom restricted up to 3 years or go to prison for up to 2 years.
According to the official version, the criminal case against Anatol Bukas is a result of one of his articles published in the Barysauskiya naviny. The article leveled a critical opinion at the Adzinstva newspaper and its editor Vera Pratasievich. The Adzinstva is an official periodical of Barysau City Executive Committee. Formally, the case looks like Ms Pratasevich got offended and took the case to the law enforcement agencies. They responded and came to the conclusion that the opposition periodical head has violated two articles of the Criminal Code. He allegedly defamed and insulted the head of a state periodical. However, as was highlighted before the trial, both the Barysauskiya naviny and the Adzinstva published several articles, where the editors criticized each other. Interestingly, attempts by the head of the independent newspaper to take Ms Pratasavich to court for the same reasons were not successful. That's why Mr. Bukas believes: law enforcement agencies showed their biased attitude already before the trial.
(Bukas: ) "I think that today my criminal case is, obviously, politically motivated. As regards the consideration of the case in court, Judge Aliena Khamtsevich also understands that the two articles of the Criminal Code are very “liberally” interpreted by the local procurator’s office. Possibly they did so to please the chair of the city executive committee Vasil Burhun. In court I plan to request new linguistic examination, because I think the one conducted earlier had a lot of flaws. What is interesting is that even Ms Lapunina, who did it, does not deny it. By the way, Tatsian Lapunina is a noise and sound specialist in the Ministry of Internal Affairs. So, she does not have any relation to the examination of the articles”.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists, where they watch the court proceedings in Barysau, think the case against Anatol Bukas is far-fetched. They compare it with the events that continue to happen around the other non-state periodicals. The view as confirmation of the fact the recent warnings issued by the Ministry of Information to Barysauskiya naviny and Volnaie Hlybokaie and Narodnaia volia. Andrei Bastuniets, deputy chair of the Belarusian Association of Journalists commented on the trial over the editor of the Barysauskiya naviny.
(Bastuniets: ) “Two important things for me here. First, criminal action brought in the case that could be resolved in a civil court and should have been resolved there, in my opinion. First thing. Second: that this is happening against the background of persecution against the Barysauskiya naviny from the authorities. This also prevents distribution of this periodical. Over the past years there have been many criminal cases initiated for articles printed in the media. And the main thing is: this is just legal persecution”.