22 August 2017, Tuesday, 17:42

Independent Journalist Fined For Photo From Border Crossing Point

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The deputy chief of the Homel customs fined Kastus Zhukouski for $ 575.

Today, Vasil Chaikouski, the deputy head of the Homel customs for the law enforcement work, found activist and freelance journalist Kastus Zhukouski guilty of having illegally taken pictures at the territory of the Novaya Guta border crossing point and made the maximum possible penalty under Article 23.32 of the Administrative Code (violation of the regime at the border crossing point) – a fine for 50 base fees or Bn 1 150, according to gomelspring.org.

The activist did not agree with the decision and already appealed an extra-judicial fine in the state customs committee.

On April 28, Kastus Zhukouski, along with the parents of Hero of Ukraine Mikhail Zhizneuski, was returning from Kyiv in his car and, at the checkpoint "Novaya Guta", they were given an advanced customs inspection. They drove their car into the box for a thorough check, where Kastus took a picture of his car by his cell phone camera.

"During the daily monitoring of the media and information resources published in the Internet by the ideological department of the Homel customs, a photo of the box for the advanced customs inspection, taken by Kastus Zhukouski, was found on the Radio Liberty’s website," - Chaikovsky wrote in the record.

The customs officers believe that once the law on the state border prohibits taking photographs at checkpoints, then citizens who stand in lines and take pictures of their surroundings with their cell phones, commit an offense.

Zhukouski himself adheres to another point of view. In his opinion, it is impossible to prohibit everything everywhere, because you can get to the point of absurdity and start punishing for photos from the toilet at the border crossing point. "It is not enough to write down any restriction of the rights of citizens in a law, as it is done here, we still have to prove for what purpose it applies. If the state worries for its safety, the most serious threat to this security is just the widespread violations of human rights, not the photo of some boxing at the customs! "- Kastus Zhukouski says.

Human rights activist Leanid Sudalenka draws attention to the maximum possible punishment, although Zhukouski has a young child depending on him, which in itself is a mitigating circumstance.

"The legislator has established a ban on photos on the state border, therefore, applying this prohibition in practice, the state agents each have the duty to prove, to achieve what legitimate goals this prohibition is introduced. In the case of Zhukouski, this wasn’t done, therefore, one can raise the issue of violation of the right to receive and impart information, "- the lawyer told.