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  • BAJ Urges State Bodies to Provide Info on Patriots’ Case

    The Belarusian Association of Journalists filed a petition to the Investigative Committee, the General prosecutor’s office and the KGB, demanding to hold a press conference for all mass media and present official information concerning the investigation into the criminal cases widely discussed lately, the so-called cases of “Bely Legion” and the “case of patriots”.

    In March, 26 peo­ple were detained accord­ing to charges of art. 293, part 3 of the Crim­i­nal Code (prepa­ra­tion of mass dis­or­ders). Many of those detained had been mem­bers of the orga­ni­za­tion Bely Legion, which was closed down 15 years ago, and some of them are cur­rent mem­bers of the Babruisk-based club “Patri­ot”. Also, some activists of Mal­a­dy Front, youth orga­ni­za­tion reg­is­tered in Prague, were detained. The deten­tions fol­lowed a state­ment of Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka on March 21 claim­ing about “mil­i­tants who were prepar­ing an armed provo­ca­tion”. Some of the detainees have been set free under recog­ni­zance, while 18 peo­ple are still in prison.

    The peti­tion addressed to the Inves­tiga­tive Com­mit­tee, the Gen­er­al prosecutor’s office and the KGB calls on them to hold a press con­fer­ence for all kinds of Belaru­sian mass media in order to present offi­cial infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the crim­i­nal cas­es, which have been wide­ly dis­cussed late­ly, the so-called cas­es of “Bely Legion” and the “case of patri­ots”.

    Some state mass media (TV chan­nels Belarus 1, STV, ONT, news­pa­per SB. Belarus Segod­nya etc.) ded­i­cat­ed reports to these cas­es based on inves­tiga­tive infor­ma­tion, as they claimed it. Mean­time, the reports were anony­mous, as well as the sources who had pro­vid­ed the infor­ma­tion from the crim­i­nal cas­es; the media reports often looked sub­jec­tive and biased.

    Mean­while, infor­ma­tion for media pub­li­ca­tion con­cern­ing crim­i­nal cas­es has to be aimed for pro­vid­ing cit­i­zens with full, pre­cise and time­ly infor­ma­tion from state bod­ies – this should not be its sub­jec­tive inter­pre­ta­tion by anony­mous authors. Infor­ma­tion has to be pro­vid­ed ful­ly with obser­vance of all rights and law­ful inter­ests of all par­ties in the crim­i­nal case, third par­ties con­cerned, with­out vio­la­tion of the secre­cy of inves­ti­ga­tion, rights and inter­ests of oth­er per­sons, and the state. It is inad­mis­si­ble to pub­lish in the media at a pre-tri­al stage those mate­ri­als of a crim­i­nal case that have evi­den­tiary val­ue and are to be assessed in a court hear­ing.

    “In our view, the infor­ma­tion on the above men­tioned crim­i­nal cas­es dis­trib­uted in a num­ber of state media, with ref­er­ence to inves­tiga­tive bod­ies as sources, does not com­ply with these pro­vi­sions of the Reg­u­la­tion (the Reg­u­la­tion on pro­vid­ing infor­ma­tion to mass media on high-pro­file crim­i­nal cas­es and cas­es under­min­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of state author­i­ties, 01.10.2008 № 59/4/283/49/52) and vio­lates equal­i­ty between mass media, as well as the right of cit­i­zens to receive full and time­ly infor­ma­tion about activ­i­ties of state bod­ies,” says the state­ment.

    BAJ also draws atten­tion to the fact that ana­log­i­cal cov­er­age is giv­en to the cas­es of Yury Paulavets, Siarhei Shypt­sen­ka and Dzmit­ry Alimkin, who “have been under arrest for over four months, charged with incit­ing nation­al hatred in mate­ri­als pub­lished on the web­site of the Russ­ian infor­ma­tion­al agency Reg­num and a num­ber of oth­er Russ­ian mass media. This crim­i­nal case has also “stirred high pub­lic inter­est with the min­i­mum of offi­cial infor­ma­tion about the course of inves­ti­ga­tion”.

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