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  • The First Fine to a Freelance Journalist in 2016: 22 base amounts

    A journalist and a BAJ member Larysa Shchyrakova has been fined by Homiel District Court 22 base amounts (4 million 620 thousand Belarusian rubles – around EUR 225). She was found guilty of breaking article 22.9 of Belarusian Code on Administrative Offenses (‘Illegal Production and Violation of Mass Media Products’). De-facto, she was punished for cooperation with a foreign media outlet without accreditation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus. The case was considered by the judge Aliaksandr Lisouski on January 13, 2016.

    The jour­nal­ist attend­ed the court ses­sion. She didn’t admit her guilt. She not­ed that one can­not be pun­ished for con­tribut­ing mate­ri­als to a for­eign media with­out accred­i­ta­tion under admin­is­tra­tive law. She added that only mass media orga­ni­za­tion / edi­to­ri­als can deal with ‘pro­duc­tion of media prod­ucts’.

    The jour­nal­ist is plan­ning to appeal against the ver­dict to a high court.

    Accord­ing to the police report of Decem­ber 24, 2015, com­posed by a police cap­tain of Homiel Depart­ment of Inter­nal Affairs R.Tsitou , the jour­nal­ist “pre­pared an inter­view of dif­fer­ent cit­i­zens in the Uryt­skaye agri­cul­tur­al set­tle­ment in Homiel dis­trict on Decem­ber 24, 2015, pro­duced ille­gal­ly mass media pro­duc­tion – a video report on ‘Sup­port of Orphans on their Way to Adult Life’, pub­lished on the air of ‘Bel­sat’ TV chan­nel on Decem­ber 24, 2015 ”.

    It should be remind­ed that sev­er­al police reports for break­ing arti­cle 22.9 of Belarus Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es were made in rela­tion to free­lance jour­nal­ists at the very end of 2015 and at the very begin­ning of 2016. One of them was com­posed in rela­tion to the free­lance jour­nal­ist Larysa Shchyrako­va. Two oth­er police reports con­cerned anoth­er free­lance reporter from Homiel region, Kas­tus Zhuk­ous­ki. The lat­ter expects for the third police report to be received from Viet­ka Depart­ment of Inter­nal Affairs by mail in a short while.

    Larysa Shchyrako­va and Kas­tus Zhuk­ous­ki sent com­plaints to the heads of Homiel, Kalinkavichy, and Kar­ma Depart­ments of Inter­nal Affairs, whose offi­cers had made the reports in rela­tion to them.

    It should be under­scored that Kas­tus Zhuk­ous­ki was fined six times and Larysa Shchyrako­va was fined twice on the same arguable admin­is­tra­tive charges in 2015.

    All in all, inde­pen­dent free­lance jour­nal­ists were fined 28 times in Belarus in the year of 2015.

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