Belarusian portal tut.by is stripped of media status

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Belarusian portal tut.by is stripped of media status
Belarusian portal tut.by is stripped of media status
3 December 2020, 16:15In the world
The Belarusian portal tut.by, which supports the protests after the presidential elections, was stripped of its media status. This decision was announced by the Economic Court of Minsk on Thursday.

The Ministry of Information filed a lawsuit against the publication. It stated that earlier the publication had been issued warnings for publishing inaccurate information that harms state interests. If a publication receives at least two such warnings in a year, it is deprived of its media status. It is noted that tut.by has already received four such warnings in a year.

All materials on which the publication was issued warnings related to the past elections. These are materials: “Seven times more voters and “secret” protocols. What violations did the observers see and what did the CEC say?”, “The State Control Committee will be able to pay large bonuses to workers who show themselves in high-profile cases”, “The security officials came to the editor of Tut.by. A criminal case on mass riots was opened against her daughter”, “The Belarusian customs office asked to confirm that there are no calls to overthrow the government in Harry Potter”.

The defense side drew the court's attention to the fact that the source of information was indicated in the material about the “secret protocols” - an observer present at the elections. At the same time, the ministry does not dispute the information published in the article itself, and does not agree only with the way of obtaining this information - in the ministry's opinion, the indicated observer could not have the information he is talking about. “Accordingly, the publication of this material cannot violate the interests of the state”, - said the defense.

Likewise, the ministry questioned the reliability of the information on the amount of awards, since, according to the ministry, the journalists “did not have access to official information”.

In the material about "Harry Potter" the opinion of the source of the information was published, which was later refuted by the official source. Both opinions are presented in one article.

The defense attorney also drew attention to the fact that during the period when the publication was issued the first warning, before the second warning, about 4.6 thousand materials were published on the website of the publication, which means that only 0.06% of them had in the opinion of the supervisory authority, false information. The defense insisted that in the statement of claim it was not proved in what exactly the damage was caused to the state. In addition, by revoking the status of a media outlet from a publication, the court restricts access of Belarusians to reliable information and violates the information sovereignty of Belarus, according to the resolution of the Council of Ministers, the lawyer of the defense said.

Recall that the publication was founded in October 2000. By 2019, the portal's audience reached 62.58% of all Belarusian Internet users. In October, tut.by was visited 86.9 million times, with 80% of users from Belarus, the rest from other countries of the world.

From October 1, the media status for the portal was suspended until the end of the year by order of the Minister of Information Igor Lutsky. Then the publication noted that the deprivation of his media status would still not stop the journalists working for the publication. According to Belarusian legislation, an electronic publication can continue to operate without the status of a media outlet, but in this case, the journalists of the publication will not be able to freely cover the protests - they can be detained by the police on an equal basis with other participants in the rally.

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