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  • A Court in Pinsk Fires Two Bloggers For Online Broadcast On YouTube and Facebook

    On 12 March, the Pinsk district court summoned the bloggers Sergei Pyatrukhin from Brest and Alexander Kabanau from Biaroza to attend the hearings in the administrative case under Article 22.9, Part 2 of the Administrative Code.

    As the press ser­vice of the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists learned, the police had drawn up a report on the basis of a state­ment by Alexan­der Yunke­vich, the in-house lawyer of EXIDE, a com­pa­ny based in Pin­sk.

    Alexan­der Yunke­vich demand­ed to pros­e­cute the blog­gers Sergei Pya­trukhin and Alexan­der Kabanau for the videos they had post­ed online and that had been filmed at the entrance to the company’s premis­es in Pin­sk. Accord­ing to the lawyer of EXIDE, by hav­ing done so, Pya­trukhin and Kabanau vio­lat­ed the law on mass media.

    Part 2 of Arti­cle 22.9 of the Admin­is­tra­tive Code does stip­u­late that an «ille­gal pro­duc­tion and (or) dis­tri­b­u­tion of media prod­ucts» con­sti­tutes a vio­la­tion. How­ev­er, there is noth­ing there to affirm that this respon­si­bil­i­ty extends to pri­vate pages on social net­works (for exam­ple, YouTube or Face­book ).

    Accord­ing to Alexan­der Kabanau, he indeed shot a video for his per­son­al account on Face­book at the company’s entrance in Pin­sk, while Sergei Pya­trukhin did a «live» broad­cast on its own YouTube chan­nel.

    As a result, the judge found that the blog­gers’ video broad­cast should be con­sid­ered media prod­ucts and fined Alexan­der Kabanau and Sergei Pya­trukhin for 40 base amounts (over EUR 400) each. The blog­gers imme­di­ate­ly announced their inten­tion to appeal the rul­ing, as they find it to be absurd and in con­tra­dic­tion with the Belaru­sian law.

    Human rights activist Pavel Sapiel­ka shares this opin­ion. In his com­ments to the press ser­vice of the Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists, he also stressed that the court rul­ing once again demon­strat­ed the exis­tence of pros­e­cu­tion for the dis­sem­i­na­tion of infor­ma­tion in Belarus; this sit­u­a­tion is not in line with the country’s inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions in the field of human rights.

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