Prosecution Warns Editor of Birzha Informatsii

On April 8, Grodno prosecutors passed a warning notice to the editor of an independent newspaper Birzha Infomatsii Yelena Ravbetskaya for violating the Article 5 of the Law on Press. The Prosecution considered that Mrs. Ravbetskaya distributed the information on behalf of an unregistered political party.

The warning is based on two articles by the head of Grodno office of Union Civil Party (UCP) in Birzha Infomatsii of January 29 and March 18. The first article was dedicated to the creation of party coalition Five Plus; in the second one the author expressed his viewpoint on the elections in Russia.

April 7 district Prosecution summoned Mrs. Ravbetskaya and informed her about the proceedings regarding the above articles. Talking to the editor, the investigator Aleksandr Abramovich Abramovicz referred to a last year's refusal of Grodno Executive Committee to register UCP Grodno office.

UCP is registered by Ministry of Justice, while according to the Law on Parties local departments of the party are required only to register in local government bodies — stated in the explanatory note to the Prosecution April 8. However, it turned out that the Prosecution already passed the warning. The editor-in-chief of Birza Infomatsii intends to appeal the warning in court.

This wasn't the first attempt to call independent journalists to account for distributing information on behalf of unregistered bodies.

Twice since the beginning of April, Baranovichi Prosecutors office summoned the journalist of the newspaper Intex-Press Marina Kulikova. The journalist was questioned about the article she wrote on the incorporation of Baranovichi cell of official youth organization BRSM into an unregistered youth movement Zubr.

April 13 Minsk District Court fined Mikhail Marynich for calling himself a member of organization Za Hodnaje Zhyccio in the article he wrote for the newspaper Narodnaya Volya— Ministry of Justice didn't register the organization yet. [text revised by the Editor]

21 April 2004