Protesters punished for paper boats protest
On 26th November 2018, a protest took place near the Russian Embassy in Minsk. A group of young people placed paper boats with Ukrainian symbols near the fence in support of the Ukrainian crew members detained by Russia. As previously covered on the CIVICUS Monitor, in November 2018 Russian authorities detained several Ukrainian sailors for entering Russian waters. The protesters were charged with participating in an unauthorised protest. On 22nd December 2018, a court of the Minsk district issued a decision and fined three of the protesters, Diana Seredyuk, Svetlana Kovalenkoto and Yevhen Batur, to pay 490 roubles (around 229 USD).
According to Belarus Digest, independent media outlets in Belarus continue to face pressure. As an example, the report mentioned the case of 18 journalists arrested and charged under Article 349(2) of the Belarusian Criminal Code for allegedly accessing information belonging to the state news agency BelTA as reported by the CIVICUS Monitor. The charges against most of the journalists were dropped, however, Maryna Zolatava, editor in chief of the website Tut.by faced trial after being hit with further charges. On 12th February 2019 the court held preliminary hearings.
According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) at least 100 fines were imposed to journalists during 2018, which the organisation considered an "unprecedented spate of fines designed solely to gag independent journalists”.
В Минске суд оштрафовал участников акции в поддержку захваченных Россией украинских моряковhttps://t.co/yRmjbJFmHN— Новое Время (@tweetsNV) December 22, 2018
Harassment of journalists breaks records in #Belarus – nearly 100 fines so far this year! https://t.co/iJNJ8RcnEU— RSF_EECA (@RSF_EECA) November 14, 2018
It is urgent to put an end to this all-out harassment campaign against the country’s last critical media voices. pic.twitter.com/E94nYWjEbQ