Free Speech Photo Ends with Fines for an Unsanctioned Action

28.11.2014 Source: Press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists

Today three participants of the photo session in Vitebsk were fined for holding an unauthorized mass event.

On November 28 Chyhunachny district court of Vitebsk heard cases of three people out of seven who posed in the photo at the background of the famous graffiti in Vitebsk on November 5. All three were found guilty of violating article 23.34 of the Code of Administrative Offences – the procedure of organizing or holding mass events. The photo was part of the campaign of BAJ to support independent journalists who are prosecuted for cooperation with foreign mass media without accreditation, the campaign was held within the Stand up for Journalism campaign of the EFJ members.

The cases were heard in three separate trials, judges Alena Tsyhankova and Dzianis Hubanau. The witness was the policeman who wrote the administrative reports.

Journalists Zmitser Kazakevich and Alena Stsiapanava got fines of 20 basic amounts (3 million rubles, or around 280$), Alena Shabunia was fined for 18 basic amounts (with the consideration that she has three children, two underage).

Four more cases are to be heard on December 1.