Updated at 14:52,24-02-2021

Economic Court Of Minsk Deprives TUT.BY Of Its Mass Media Status


Economic Court Of Minsk Deprives TUT.BY Of Its Mass Media Status
TUT.BY General Director Lyudmila Chekina [in the center]
Economic Court of Minsk examined the case on the claim of the Ministry of Information against TUT.BY. The ministry believes that “inaccurate information” in the articles [for which warnings were issued] harmed the interests of the state . TUT.BY stressed that withdrawal of media status would limit the right of citizens to access reliable information. The judge ruled to strip TUT.BY of its media status.

The trial began with the filing of petitions, as well as a statement by citizen Marina Kiselevich, who asked to recognize her as a third party in the case due to the fact that if TUT.BY loses its status as a media outlet, her interests in obtaining reliable information will be infringed. The court refused her request.
The interests of TUT.BY were defended by General Director of TUT BY MEDIA LLC Lyudmila Chekina and lawyer Sergey Zikratsky. Legal support was also provided by the Aleinikov & Partners law firm presented by senior lawyers Anna Tsymbalist and Ksana Sidoruk.

The interests of the Ministry of Information were represented by Tatyana Shpilevskaya, a lawyer and partner of the Principal Law Office.

A defender of the Ministry of Information, as examples of harm to state interests, cited materials for which warnings were issued, indicating that, by overestimating the amount paid to employees of the State Control Committee, TUT.BY massively misinformed the population about the procedure for distributing and spending budget funds. He also pointed out that the publication of untrue information that discredits the activities of state bodies in the current socio-political conditions harmed state interests.

The defense of TUT.BY believes that the Ministry of Information has committed a violation by not specifying what the state interest is in this case. In addition, the satisfaction of the claim to deprive TUT.BY of its media status will be directed against information sovereignty of Belarus, according to the Council of Ministers resolution “On the Concept of Information Security”, which states that in order to achieve information sovereignty, the state ensures the development of national media.

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“Speaking of the three existing warnings, it is necessary to correlate them with the number of media materials that were created. 4692 articles were published in the period between the first and the last warning. Of these, the Ministry of Information issued three warnings, which stand undisputed. This is 0,06% of materials published on the TUT.BY outlet,” said lawyer Sergei Zikratsky.

Recall that since 7 August, 2020, TUT.BY received four warnings for materials “Seven times more voters and ‘secret’ protocols. What violations did the observers see and what did the CEC say?”,” The State Control Committee to pay big bonuses to workers who show themselves in high-profile cases”, “Security forces came to a TUT.BY editor. A criminal case was opened against her daughter on mass riots” and “Belarusian customs asked to confirm that there are no calls to overthrow the government in Harry Potter. ”

A media outlet can be deprived of its media status after two or more written warnings within one year. On 18 September, the Ministry of Information filed a lawsuit against TUT.BY. By order of Belarus’ Information Minister Igor Lutsky, TUT.BY media status has been suspended from 1 October to 30 December 2020. Following an appeal by TUT.BY in the Supreme Court, one of the issued warnings was declared invalid.