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  • Supreme Court Upholds Fine to Lohvinau

    On February 10, the Supreme Court of Belarus heard 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.

    Lohv­in­au plead­ed for pub­lic help to raise the funds to com­pen­sate the fine and con­fis­ca­tion. The book­seller said the sum of mon­ey was not the prof­it, but the annu­al turnover, and the book­store would go bank­rupt, and he might face per­son­al crim­i­nal lia­bil­i­ty. The pub­lic and lit­er­ary com­mu­ni­ty are keep­ing a marathon of sol­i­dar­i­ty; almost fourth part of the fine has been col­lect­ed by now. The book­store keeps work under anoth­er legal enti­ty.

    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. Lohv­in­au tried to dis­pute the last refusal of reg­is­tra­tion of his book­store as a dis­trib­u­tor of print prod­ucts; how­ev­er, the Supreme Court sup­port­ed the stand­ing of the reg­is­ter­ing body. On Jan­u­ary 30, the Judge of the Supreme Court Ali­ak­san­dr Pau­tau sup­port­ed the Ministry’s point of view.

    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, as he hoped, tem­porar­i­ly.

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