25 May 2015, Monday, 14:21

Independent journalists prosecuted for cooperation with foreign media

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The police invite journalists from Brest and Babruisk to questionings.

The journalists will probably be charged with administrative offences.

Independent journalist Maryna Malchanava, whose works were published on Belsat's website, received a summons on Friday asking to come to a police station in Babruisk, because an administrative case for violating the law on the media was opened against her, charter97.org learnt from the press service of the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ).

Radio Racyja's journalist Yauhen Skrabets received a similar summons on September 1.

Skrabets said he received a telephone call from the police on August 31. A police officer said he should appear at a police station to give details about his article on Radio Racyja's website.

“They called my home phone and asked to come to the police station in Savetskaya Street. A man said on the phone they want me give explanations about an article on the website of Radio Racyja,” Skrabets said.

Lawyers thinks the police want to charge both journalists with administrative offences for working with foreign media without accreditation. Both media have been trying to obtain accreditation from the Belarusian authorities for many years. It is possibly the beginning of a large wave of new repressions.

The judicial mechanism was tested this spring, when three journalists in the Hrodna region were fined in accordance with article 22.9 of the Code of Administrative Offences (illegal production or distribution of media products).

Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, immediately reacted to these facts in a statement. She raised concerns about administrative charges against the journalists and called on the Belarusian authorities not to create artificial obstacles for the press.

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