23 January 2018, Tuesday, 12:53

Journalist fined for internet comment


A comment addressed to a judge, included in the EU’s black list, cost the author 20 million Belarusian roubles.

It all started with an article appearing on a web-site on the difficulties with housing construction in Minsk residential area. The builder company decided to abrogate contracts for constructions with shareholders, who refused to sign additional agreements on price increase. One of the shareholders appealed to court, but the judge ruled not in his favor, Komsomolskaha Pravda in Belarus reports.

A discussion broke out among the article’s readers, Mikhail (name changed – ed.) also joined the discussion under an alias. In the end, the journalist went personal, for what law enforcement agencies state. He lashed out the judge’s decision. First to notice that was the builder. Having read the commentary attentively, the company’s administration copied all the pages of the discussion and sent them to Minsk city executive committee’s police department. The policemen found out that the fault language user worked as an economic observer at an information and analysis agency. He posted the insulting comments right from the working PC. Such a lively interest to the topic was explained by the fact that Mikhail was building an apartment in that very house, mentioned in the article.

“A criminal case was started on this according to the article 391 of the Criminal Code “Insult of a judge or a people’s assessor”. At the trial the defendant did not admit the guilt,. He claimed that his words were not addressed to one specific judge. He simply created an image in the virtual space, at which he directed all the negative emotions and stress, - told the aide to Minsk Soviet district’s prosecutor Liliana Licviniuk. – Nevertheless, he came to the victim with apologies, as well as the journalist’s management also apologized to the judge. However, the guilt was proven in full and the and the sentence of conviction passed“.

The judge, whose name remained unknown, also spoke on trial. He did not also like that the journalist spoke ill of the judiciary. Mikhail also stated that the judge was not allowed to enter the EU. In the end the journalist was sentenced to a fine of 20 million. The money went to the state’s budget.