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  • Lohvinau Bookstore Fined

    If the court decision comes into legal force, the bookstore will go bankrupt.

    On Jan­u­ary 9, the Eco­nom­ic Court in Min­sk imposed a fine of 5 mil­lion rubles and con­fis­ca­tion of 961 mil­lion rubles from Lohv­in­au book­store.

    The suit was filed by the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry in Decem­ber. The book­store was charged with sell­ing books with­out Reg­is­tra­tion of the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry.

    Here we should remind that amend­ments to the law on pub­lish­ing and dis­tri­b­u­tion of print prod­ucts (came into legal force since Jan­u­ary 1, 2014) oblig­ed all dis­trib­u­tors of print prod­ucts to pub­lish with the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry in a spe­cial reg­is­ter. The titles of the dis­trib­u­tors are sup­posed to be pub­lished on the web­site of the Min­istry. The dis­trib­u­tors had to do it with­in a year.

    Lohv­in­au book­store failed to do so. They had applied for reg­is­tra­tion eight times. All appli­ca­tions end­ed with refusals. The offi­cial papers explained the rea­sons: the appli­cants vio­lat­ed require­ments of both form and con­tents of the appli­ca­tion (Jan­u­ary 24); the pri­vate uni­tary enter­prise Lohv­in­au … locat­ed at Min­sk, Neza­lezh­nas­ti ave. 37‑a … for inex­act indi­ca­tion of the place of reg­is­tra­tion of the legal enti­ty (Feb­ru­ary 28); the size of the state duty for reg­is­tra­tion does not cor­re­spond to legal require­ments (June 12); the elec­tron­ic pay­ment order pro­vid­ed does not meet the require­ments of arti­cle 251, part 2 of the Code on Tax­es (August 29); the type of premis­es was not indi­cat­ed in the appli­ca­tion form as required by a rul­ing of the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry (Octo­ber 10); the incor­rect infor­ma­tion on postal code was pro­vid­ed (Novem­ber 25).

    Now the books-sell­er has to pay a fine for that he is an unreg­is­tered book-sell­er, the sum equiv­a­lent to around 363 USD for the time being. But, the state also wants a com­pen­sa­tion of 961 mil­lion rubles of the “ille­gal prof­it”, which is around 70,000 EURO for the time being.

    Lohv­in­au says the state bod­ies mis­tak­en about the sum of the prof­it, as this is the mon­ey of the total sales for the year. The defen­dant made a motion to attach finan­cial doc­u­ments prov­ing it to the case mate­ri­als, but the judge dis­missed the motion.

    Now, he has ten days to appeal against the court deci­sion.

    The book­store keeps work under anoth­er legal enti­ty since the start of the year.

    We remind that at first Lohvinau’s license as a pub­lish­er was with­drawn. The grounds for the deci­sion was that the pub­lish­ing house Lohv­in­au had been the pub­lish­er of the Belarus Press Pho­to 2011 album. The pho­to album was acknowl­edged extrem­ist by the Ash­mi­any dis­trict court in 2012, and nei­ther cas­sa­tion appeal nor pub­lic indig­na­tion man­aged to over­turn this deci­sion. BAJ do not con­sid­er that the album was at least a bit extrem­ist, more­over it was absurd to with­draw a pub­lish­ing license on the basis of this dubi­ous case.

    Mean­while, Belaru­sian leg­is­la­tion was amend­ed a lit­tle, sub­sti­tut­ing pub­lish­ing license by reg­is­tra­tion of pub­lish­ers, and also of dis­trib­u­tors of print prod­ucts, which brings even more law and order, but also, as we see it now, brings the whole Lohv­in­au enter­prise to an end. The Belaru­sian law on pub­lish­ing activ­i­ties was crit­i­cized by PEN.

    Lohv­in­au was award­ed with IPA Free­dom to Pub­lish Prize.

    The Lohvinau’s pub­lish­ing house, accord­ing to lat­est infor­ma­tion, was tem­porar­i­ly orga­nized in Lithua­nia.

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