Belarus police picking up evidence against Belsat TV contributor

On December 7, the local police has visited blogger and activist Kastus Shytal and asked him about Hlybokaye-based freelance journalist Zmitser Lupach.

A policeman showed him a photo of Lupach and said that an administrative case was being opened on the reporter. During the conversation, he made a mention of a news story by Belsat TV. Then the policeman asked Shytal to identify the person on the photo or recall who had interviewed him when the activist was collecting signatures in support of the initiative to make the Minsk-Polatsk high-speed train stop at Parafianava (Dokshytsy district), the Belarusian Association of Journalists reports.

It is the fourth protocol that has been drawn upon Lupach in 2017.

In November Zmitser Lupach was fined for ‘work without accreditation’. A Hlybokaye court imposed a fine of BYN 483 ($240) on him. Judge Andrey Tarasevich found Mr Lupach guilty as the freelance journalist had contributed to making a news story about Hlybokaye milk canning plant. It was aired by Belsat TV on September 20 (watch the video below).

Belarusian authorities are giving no peace to Belsat TV journalists: according to the BAJ, no other media outlet in the country is coming under such fire. For the year to date, Belsat TV journalists have had to pay about $ 14,000 of fines. Moreover, our ciolleagues have been sentenced to dozens of days in prison.

Belsat TV which has been broadcasting for nearly ten years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists during these very nine years. 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.