‘For dearest Lukashenka, Putin’: Belsat TV contributors on trial

Belsat TV journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva and photographer Iryna Arakhouskaya are being tried for violation the law on media, i.e. working without accreditation.

The case is being heard by judge Ivan Kastsyan in Tsentralny district court of Minsk.

The reason for putting the duo to justice was a man-on the-street interview near the Russian Embassy in Minsk on the presidential elections day.

“We are for our dearest Lukashenka! Oh, sorry, for our dearest Putin! We like Putin very much! What a handsome he is! It is a pity he is so far away and I cannot hug him!” two Russian citizens said when asked about their candidate.

Later, the video went viral.

The witness is police officer Dzmitry Shantyr. Andreyeva moved for summoning representatives of the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Information to appear as witnesses in court: she wanted officials to explain why they had repeatedly denied accreditation to Belsat TV. The judge turned down the motion saying that the issue was ‘more global’.

“The state itself creates the conditions for not observing the media law. In fact, by not ggranting accreditation to Belsat,they journalists are deprived of the right to work, which is ensured by the Constitution,” the journalist said.

UPD A fine of BYN 857.5 has been imposed on Andreyeva; BYN 490 – on Arakhouskaya.

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According to Reporters Without Borders, it is our journalists who are harassed by Belarusian government agencies most. In 2017, Belsat TV journalists paid over $ 14,000 of fines. 94% of fines for the so-called illegal production of media products fell on Belsat TV contributors, the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) reported.

Belsat TV which has been broadcasting over ten years, has been repeatedly denied accreditation for its journalists in Belarus. The Foreign Ministry has 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.

During the current year, 37 fines have been imposed on Belsat TV journalists and contributors. They will have to pay nearly 30,000 Belarusian rubles.

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