Journalist in Mahilyow questioned at prosecutor’s office over «abusive» online posts about local judge


Journalist Alina Skrabunova resident in Mahilyow was questioned Thursday at the Mahilyow Regional Prosecutor’s Office over what the investigator called abusive messages about a local judge that had been posted online.

The anonymous comments regarding Judge Iryna Lanchava of the city’s Leninski District Court, who imposed jail terms on two journalists earlier this year, appeared on Belarus’ news site on July 7.

Ms. Skrabunova told BelaPAN that she had been asked by phone to show up at the prosecutor’s office. “I was curious to know what they could say,” she said.

The woman came to the prosecutor’s office together with human rights defender Barys Bukhel. She was questioned by investigator Pavel Starykaw.

It turned out that the judge had not applied to the prosecutor`s office to find the author of the comments, according to the journalist.

Ms. Skrabunova expressed surprise at the decision of the prosecutor’s office to question her over the messages.

The woman was in jail on July 7 following her arrest during a so-called silent protest in the city. “I cannot understand their logic,” she noted. “There are a lot of insulting messages on the Internet about people holding more important positions than Lanchanva, but no probes are known to have been launched in connection with them.”

The officer asked Ms. Skrabunova to tell him her email addresses and names that she used on the Internet, which she refused to do.

Mr. Bukhel told BelaPAN that following the questioning of Ms. Skrabunova, new abusive comments regarding the judge had been posted by unknown people on the news site.

Ms. Lanchava sentenced BelaPAN correspondent Ales Asiptsow to 10 days in jail on July 7 following his arrest during a silent protest in the city on July 3. She jailed another BelaPAN correspondent, Uladzimir Laptsevich, to seven days on March 28. Mr. Laptsevich was apprehended on October 25 while heading to the local history museum to cover a flower-laying ceremony designed to mark the 93rd anniversary of the proclamation of the independence of the 1918 Belarusian National Republic. Both journalists were on assignment for BelaPAN at the time of their arrest.