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  • Mass Media Week in Belarus Info-posting February 9 – 15, 2015

    Within the reporting period, there were threats and obstacles to journalists’ work; state agencies kept answering something about the blocking of websites in December; and the commission on extremism announced it found no banned contents in a human rights report.

    On Feb­ru­ary 9, a jour­nal­ist from Hrod­na and BAJ mem­ber Vik­tar Sazonau told that he had received life threats on the page in Vkon­tak­te social net. He said it had been the sec­ond one for sev­er­al months.

    On Feb­ru­ary 10, the Supreme Court of Belarus (Judge Kat­siary­na Karatke­vich) dis­missed the appeal of Lohv­in­au against the deci­sion to fine the book­store for “ille­gal entrepreneur’s activ­i­ties”.

    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 (around 70 thou­sand euro). Last year Lohv­in­au applied six times to get reg­is­tered as a dis­trib­u­tor of print prod­ucts, but the Min­istry refused to reg­is­ter because of for­mal­i­ties.

    As report­ed on Feb­ru­ary 10, Lohv­in­au book­store was not allowed to par­tic­i­pate in the Inter­na­tion­al Book Exhi­bi­tion Fair in Min­sk on Feb­ru­ary 11 – 15. Lohv­in­au said the direc­tor of the orga­niz­ing com­pa­ny Mak­bel excused by an order to do so from the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry.

    On Feb­ru­ary 11, BAJ received a reply from the Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Informa­ti­za­tion regard­ing trou­bles with access to sev­er­al web­sites at the end of Decem­ber.

    We remind that BAJ request­ed infor­ma­tion from the offi­cial agen­cies on Decem­ber 22; web­sites naviny.by, charter97.org, udf.by, gazetby.com and some oth­ers had expe­ri­enced trou­bles with access since Decem­ber 19. BAJ request­ed to hold an inquiry, restore access and bring trou­ble-mak­ers to respon­si­bil­i­ty.

    The first Deputy Min­is­ter informed that the Min­istry did not take any mea­sures to block the men­tioned web­sites in Decem­ber, 2014.

    On Feb­ru­ary 12 it became known that the Repub­li­can Expert Com­mis­sion on eval­u­at­ing infor­ma­tion prod­ucts in respect of extrem­ist con­tents com­plet­ed exam­i­na­tion of the joint report of British and Belaru­sian human rights defend­ers “Half an hour before spring: report on inequal­i­ty and dis­crim­i­na­tion in Belarus”. The com­mis­sion did not find extrem­ist con­tents in the report. We remind that the report, print­ed in Great Britain, was sized by cus­toms office in the air­port Min­sk 2 at the begin­ning of August, 2014. Aleh Hulak, from the Belaru­sian Helsin­ki Com­mit­tee, said that the report was still at the cus­toms office, although the exam­i­na­tion was dat­ed Novem­ber 25. The pro­ce­dure of return of the report is being nego­ti­at­ed.

    On Feb­ru­ary 13, the jour­nal­ist from Hrod­na Andrei Mialesh­ka was denied an inter­view at an exhi­bi­tion the Muse­um of Choco­late at the Hrod­na His­to­ry and Arche­ol­o­gy muse­um. The deputy head on ide­ol­o­gy of the Hrod­na Region Exec­u­tive Com­mit­tee asked for a jour­nal­is­tic accred­i­ta­tion. When the jour­nal­ist showed the BAJ cer­tifi­cate, the offi­cial claimed he could paint a lot of such doc­u­ments and demand­ed the jour­nal­ist to leave the muse­um.

    We remind that Andrei Mialesh­ka has received three fines for work for Radio Racy­ja, which can­not get accred­i­ta­tion in Belarus. Andrei Mialesh­ka thinks this is a ban on his right to pro­fes­sion and of his con­sti­tu­tion­al rights to get and dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion.

    As report­ed on Feb­ru­ary 13, the com­plaint of the dis­trib­u­tor of Viteb­skij Couri­er Mikhail Zhu­rauliou was reg­is­tered at the UN Human Rights Com­mit­tee. The offi­cial con­fir­ma­tion was sent to Pavel Lev­in­au who helped draw up the com­plaint.

    We remind that in 2012 the dis­trib­u­tor was fined for 2,500,000 rubles for ille­gal dis­tri­b­u­tion of the news­pa­per. The fine was upheld on appeal, and all legal reme­dies had been exhaust­ed.

    On Feb­ru­ary 17, the judge’s pan­el on cit­i­zen lit­i­ga­tions of the Mahilow Region­al Court dis­missed the cas­sa­tion appeal of the infor­ma­tion­al agency Bela­PAN, of the edi­to­r­i­al office of the news­pa­per Uzho­rak and of the jour­nal­ist of Bela­PAN Ulazdimir Lapce­vich. They want­ed to over­turn the deci­sion of the Hor­ki dis­trict court in the hon­or, dig­ni­ty and busi­ness rep­u­ta­tion suit.

    We remind that on Decem­ber 18, the Hor­ki dis­trict court (judge Vik­tar Yaske­vich) ordered that the pub­lish­er of the news­pa­per UzHo­rak and the jour­nal­ist Uladz­imir Lapt­se­vich should pay moral dam­ages of 6 mil­lion rubles to Tama­ra Kaltuno­va, chair of the local orga­ni­za­tion of the Belaru­sian Soci­ety of Peo­ple with Dis­abil­i­ties; and also they should cov­er legal expens­es. Tama­ra Kaltuno­va had filed the suit claim­ing the mate­ri­als of Bela­PAN, lat­er reprint­ed by UzHo­rak, insult­ed her hon­or, dig­ni­ty and busi­ness rep­u­ta­tion. Nei­ther the plain­tiff nor her legal rep­re­sen­ta­tive came to the hear­ing. The judge heard wit­ness­es from defense sides who proved that the mate­ri­als cor­rect­ly pre­sent­ed the words of the plain­tiff. How­ev­er, the judge made the con­clu­sion that the plain­tiff had been insult­ed.

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