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  • Lohvinau’s Suit against Information Ministry Dismissed

    Lohvinau tried to dispute six refusals of registration of his bookstore as a distributor of print products; however, the Supreme Court supported the standing of the registering body.

    Last year Lohv­in­au applied six times to get reg­is­tered as a dis­trib­u­tor of print prod­ucts (BAJ note – the oblig­a­tion to reg­is­ter as such was intro­duced with the new law on pub­lish­ers and dis­trib­u­tors of print prod­ucts enact­ed on Jan­u­ary 1, 2014; the reg­is­tra­tion should have been obtained with­in a year). The last of the refusals was due to incor­rect postal code indi­cat­ed in the appli­ca­tion form.

    The lawyer of Lohv­in­au Siarhei Zikrats­ki argued that a postal code was not the infor­ma­tion com­pul­so­ry for fill­ing in into the appli­ca­tion form, so the mis­take could not be regard­ed as a ground for deny­ing accred­i­ta­tion.

    Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion argued that infor­ma­tion sub­mit­ted for reg­is­tra­tion had to be true, regard­less of the fact whether it was com­pul­so­ry or option­al.

    On Jan­u­ary 30, the Judge of the Supreme Court Ali­ak­san­dr Pau­tau sup­port­ed the Ministry’s point of view.

    We remind that the absence of the reg­is­tra­tion as a dis­trib­u­tor of print prod­ucts in 2014 end­ed up with a tax inspec­tion at the end of the year. The tax inspec­tors sued Lohv­in­au in Eco­nom­ic Court, which ruled to fine the book­seller 30 basic amounts (5.4 mil­lion rubles) for work with­out reg­is­tra­tion and to con­fis­cate prof­its of the year which was claimed to be 961 mil­lion rubles.

    Lohv­in­au plead­ed for pub­lic help to raise the funds to com­pen­sate the fine and con­fis­ca­tion, in case the rul­ing sup­port­ed in appeal. The book­seller says the sum of mon­ey is not the prof­it, but the annu­al turnover, and the book­store will go bank­rupt, and he might face per­son­al crim­i­nal lia­bil­i­ty.

    Ear­li­er, in 2013 the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion ter­mi­nat­ed Lohvinau’s license as a pub­lish­er. The pre­text for the sanc­tion was deci­sion of Ash­mi­any dis­trict court that the pho­to album Belarus Press Pho­to 2011, pub­lished by Lohv­in­au, con­tained extrem­ist con­tents. The court deci­sion on the pho­to album was denounced by reporters’ pro­fes­sion­al com­mu­ni­ty. Lohv­in­au, in his turn, argued that he could not fore­see a year before that the album could be claimed extrem­ist, but this did not mat­ter, and the Supreme Eco­nom­ic Court upheld the Ministry’s deci­sion to rip the pub­lish­er off the pub­lish­ing license. In Feb­ru­ary 2014, Lohin­au reg­is­tered an orga­ni­za­tion Lit­er­ary House Lohv­in­au in Vil­nius.

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