Laughter vs hefty fines: Four Belsat TV journalists on trial

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Opublikowany przez Белсат TV Poniedziałek, 30 października 2017

A Minsk court has imposed heavy fines on four Belsat TV journalists accused of illegal production and distribution of media products, i.e. for contributing to a foreign media outlet.

The journalists did not admit their guilt. Judge Viktoryia Shabunya fined Volha Czajczyc and Andrus Kozel 1,035 Belarusian rubles each ($525). Hanna Azemsha and Ales Barazenka are fined BYN 575 ($290) each.

Our colleagues have been livestreaming their own trials:

“Let’s make fun, because one cannot take these hearingss seriously. They have no right to try us under this article. It is nonsense. And the best weapon against stupidity is laughter. Walls fall in the line of laughter; if the authorities want to play games with us, here is our response,Hanna Azemsha said.

Police lieutenant colonel Dzmitry Krotau was witnessing against them in court, the spokesman for the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) Barys Haretski said.

Dzmitry Krotau who drew up protocols upon Belsat TV journalists

On October 10, Ales Barazenka got a fine of BYN920 ($460); expensive video equipment was seized from him.

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.