Human Rights House Foundation

Belarus

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5 trials of Belsat TV journalists this week in Belarus

Belarusian authorities don't allow Belsat journalists to cover official events, arrest them; moreover, there have recently been increasingly frequent trials and fines.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017, by Belarusian HRH based on http://belsat.eu

As for the employees of TV channel "Belsat" , they suffered from the monetary penalties from the beginning of the year more than others: from the beginning of the year, the total sum of fines imposed has amounted to more than $11,000. One of the latest invitations to trial was received by the journalist Ales Silich for photographing the rally of cyclists near the Opera House.

"We were working, there were two protesters, two journalists and about six or seven of these bulky guys in civilian clothes who were filming everybody. And it seems that they make some investigation in militia on the basis of this video (no one came to us, nor asked any journalist identity or anything), they are identifying our faces and send us summons to the militia and to the court ", - says the journalist Ales Silich.

Along with Ales Silich, Maryia Artsybashava and Syarzhyk Kavalyou were summoned to court. On August 24, the administrative case of our journalist Stanislau Ivashkevich will be heard. He made a reportage in Lida, about a pig farm, which pollutes the local river. He may face a fine of 50 basic units (1,150 BYN). The next day, on August 25, Belsat journalist Katsyaryna Andreyeva will appear before court for livestreaming a protest rally on 3 July and the Airborne Forces Day celebration on July 29.

“They have only one method of pressure – to seize equipment and draw a protocol upon a journalists. There is no other leverage,” Andreyeva said.

The official reason is worded as follows: illegal production and distribution of media products. In other words, for work without accreditation.

Ales Silich, who often works abroad, stresses that in contrast to Belarus, getting accreditation is not a problem in EU countries.

“If your media outlet does not violate the law, does not call for violence, such accreditation may be obtained within a few days. But our attempts to register Belsat in Belarus are like just some horrible tale. For unknown reasons, we are denied accreditation,” Silich adds.

Alyaksei Minchonak, the official representative of Belsat TV in Minsk, believes that the persecution of journalists and increasing amount of fines have a purpose.

“I think that it can be attributed to the fact that the authorities are preparing for another protest campaign in the autumn. They want to neutralize and intimidate journalists,” comments Alyaksei Minchonak, the representative of Belsat TV in Belarus.

Homiel-based freelance journalist Kastus Zhukouski has hit a record in receiving penalties for working without accreditation in Belarus. Now he is facing confiscation of property over unpaid fines he was given for contributing to Belsat TV, representatives of the court will visit him already this Monday. And three days later, he is going to another trial for work without accreditation.

Belarusian HRH based on http://belsat.eu

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