On September 10, a judge of Dzyarzhynsk district court imposed a fine of 980 Belarusian rubles on Belsat TV journalist Volha Czajczyc for making a photo report from picketing the restaurant Let’s Go And Eat in Kurapaty, a mass grave site near Minsk.
It is the tenth time our colleague has got a monetary fine in 2018, and their total amount has reached BYN 8,330 (nearly $4,200). And there is more, on the same day she learned that the Slonim police drew a protocol upon her under article 22.9 of the Administrative Code.
In late August, the local policemen demanded our crew leave the meeting of the residents and the hostel administration. As Volha Czajczyc refused to comply with the illegal demand.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials (Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code) and work without accreditation. In 2017 alone, Belsat contributors paid to the state as much as $14,000 in fines. According to BAJ, last year, 94% of fines for alleged illegal manufacturing of media materials fell on the journalists of Belsat.
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly declared that it could not issue any accreditation to Belsat because the journalists working for the TV station … break the law.
Thus, the circle closes: journalists are denied accreditation because they break the law and they break the law, because they work without accreditation that they seek. And it explains the existence of absurdist Article 22.9 of the Administrative Code, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.
For the year to date, fines totaling to about $ 30,000 have been imposed on our journalists by the Belarusian authorities. However, these draconian measures will not affect our work. We keep developing and launching new projects. A new season has kicked off:
It is coming…