Another protocol was drawn upon Zmitser Lupach, a journalist from the town of Hlybokaye, over his contributing to Belsat TV. Local police have already submitted the administrative case to court.
The policemen started checks over a news story which was part of Belsat TV satirical news show Subjective aired on April 10; Zmitser Lupach reported about the fitness centre in Hlybokaye.
“They interrogated the witnesses, i.e. the persons I had interviewed. They obtained the prosecutor’s approval to get information about my telephone calls, because I had phoned the head of the sports department of our district executive committee. She was also questioned as a witness,” the journalist told Belsat.
In the protocol, police major Syarhei Tsyrban notes that Lupach ‘conducted an interview over the phone’ and then handed the material over to Belsat. Later, the story appeared online. According to the police, the journalist violated Article 22.9 of the Belarusian Code of Administrative Offences (illegal production and / or distribution of mass media products).
In February, Zmitser Lupach was found guilty of offending against the law on media. In fact, he got a fine of 1,080 rubles (about $540) for contributing to a news item about a children’s playground.
Belsat TV, which has been broadcasting for over 12 years, has been denied accreditation for its journalists. 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, which provides punishment for ‘illegal production and distribution of media products’. If one has accreditation, they are allowed to perform journalistic duties, if not – their activity is outlawed.