The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) criticized the actions of Belarus institutions, after it was revealed that several journalists in the country received arbitrary financial fines as an apparent attempt at censorship. </p>
On 27 September, freelance journalist from Homiel Kastus Zhukouski was found guilty of alleged “illegal production of mass media products” by a judge in Petrykau District. This is the journalists eighth penalty for freelance journalism; the sum of his fines since the beginning of 2017 totals almost 130 Belarusian rubles (approx. 3,100 EUR). His colleague Andrei Tolchyn was also fined for assisting Zhukouski in producing video footage. The two had been filming the state of a run-down residential building in a former military settlement.
“We harshly condemn the actions and behavior of Belarus institutions towards media workers in the country” SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic stated. “It is unacceptable for legislative authorities to practice such blatant, continuous and precise pressure against freelance or oppositionist journalists. Marginalization of critical media outlets and journalists through high fines and attempts at censorship only bring to focus the overall lack of democracy in Belarus, which we, along with the international media community, are monitoring closely” Vujovic added.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe.