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  • Freelance Journalists Face another Wave of Prosecution in Belarus: Police Report Made against Larysa Shchyrakova (Homiel)

    The Belarusian official authorities have started a new wave of pressure on independent journalists. The previous repressive trend was suspended, following the promises, given by the President of Belarus A. Lukashenka, to look into the problem in August 2015.

    Report­ed­ly, the police com­posed a report for ‘ille­gal pro­duc­tion and dis­tri­b­u­tion of mass media prod­ucts’ (art. 22.9 of Belarus Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es) against an inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ist Larysa Shchyrako­va from Homiel.

    Ms. Shchyrako­va has been noti­fied by mail that the report was made by a police offi­cer R.Tsitou in the journalist’s absence on Decem­ber 24, 2015.

    Ms Shchyrakova’s TV report was ded­i­cat­ed to the prob­lems of a for­mer fos­ter-child from the orphan­age in Uryt­s­ki set­tle­ment, Homiel region. The TV footage was pre­sent­ed on ‘Bel­sat’ TV chan­nel.

    It was the sixth police report against the inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ist for her coop­er­a­tion with a for­eign media out­let with­out the press accred­i­ta­tion. All in all, Belaru­sian inde­pen­dent media work­ers were fined 28 times on the same charges (arti­cle 22.9 of Belarus Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es) in 2015.

    It is worth men­tion­ing that the sit­u­a­tion improved for some time after August 4, 2015, when the Pres­i­dent of Belarus Ali­ak­san­dr Lukashen­ka stat­ed in his inter­view to inde­pen­dent media that he didn’t sup­port the restric­tions for jour­nal­ists in prin­ci­ple and promised to look into the sit­u­a­tion.

    Con­se­quent­ly, admin­is­tra­tive cas­es against inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists weren’t filed for four months in a row.

    Anoth­er free­lance jour­nal­ist from Homiel Kas­tus Zhuk­ous­ki was called to the police depart­ment to receive a police report for vio­lat­ing arti­cle 22.9 of Belarus Code on Admin­is­tra­tive Offens­es at the very end of the year 2015.

    The Belaru­sian Asso­ci­a­tion of Jour­nal­ists is deeply con­cerned with the new wave of pros­e­cu­tion against inde­pen­dent reporters. The BAJ lead­er­ship is about to take steps in order to defend the Asso­ci­a­tion mem­bers’ rights.

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