The Belarusian authorities have been exerting pressure on Brest-based Belsat TV contributors Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava for over six months.
On March 4, Raman Karaban, a judge at Maskouski district court in Brest, imposed a hefty fine totalling to 3,060 Belarusian rubles (appr. $1,500) on the two journalists.
The duo was found guilty of illegal production and distribution of media products, i.e. for contributing to Belsat TV. The trial was based on three protocols drawn up by the police without the involvement of Lyauchuk and Kharytonava, which violated their right to defense.
Ales Lyauchuk and Milana Kharytonava have been repeatedly spotted covering the protests against the construction of a battery factory in the city and interviewing locals. The crew has already had many trials over making reports about the situation in Brest.
They have recently reported about the problems that dozens of residents are facing.
“The police and courts do not even try to observe the laws, they continue using various ways in order to subject my family to stress. I am sure that in such a manner they are trying to muzzle the voice of the free press. But I know that the truth is on our side, and the people, particularly those who live in Paplauski Street – the authorities do not give a toss about their problems – appreciate our work,” Lyauchuk told Belsat.
Because of the work in the ‘partisan’ conditions, Belsat employees are often on trial for illegal production of media materials and work without accreditation.
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. If you have accreditation, you are allowed be a journalist. If you do not have it – you are outlawed.