Articles of the publicists arrested in Belarus contained harsh criticism of the authorities, but no extremism, Olga Karach, head of “Nash Dom” (“Our Home”) International Civil Initiative Center, said on July 17, after attending trial on anti-defamation lawsuit filed by EADaily’s analyst Yuri Pavlovets, who is still in custody in Belarus.
On July 14, a preliminary trial on Pavlovets’ lawsuit against “Sovetskaya Belorussia” (SB) official newspaper of the Belarusian President’s Administration, was held in Minsk. Yevgeny Kononovich, a SB correspondent ascribed others’ statements to the publicist equating him with Nazi criminals.
“I have got very sad impressions from the trial. Firstly, we have found out who is behind the phrases ‘sub-nation’ and ‘sub-language’ that are constantly fastened to the publicists. These words were invented by ‘Sovetskaya Belorussia’ journalist, not by Sergey Shiptenko and Yuri Pavlovets. Even Dmitry Alimkin did not use such ideas as ‘sub-nation’ and ‘sub-language.’ He talks about ‘sub-state,’ while the state and the nation are quite different ideas. Secondly, I don’t understand why it is normal when I say that Belarus is slowly moving towards the West, but when Yuri Pavlovets says the same, it is interpreted as ‘extremism’? Well, some people welcome that process, while Yuri Pavlovets criticized it. What is wrong about it?” Karach said.
According to her, the trial is over, but questions have remained without answers. Karach calls inadmissible that SB newspaper compares the publicists with Nazi criminals.
“I am tired of listening to statements about Goebbels and his ‘accomplices’ from pro-governmental journalists. Why do they link publicists and Nazi criminals?” Karach asked.
“During the trial, SB journalist Kononovich said Pavlovets’ phrase reading that Byelorussian language is practically dead means that he does not respect the Belarus people, does not recognize sovereignty of Belarus, and actually considers the Belarusian nation inferior, and Goebbels had the same views,” Karach explained.
As EADaily reported earlier, Kononovich used Pavlovets’ article, which is not even mentioned in the case against the publicists. In that article, Pavlovets called the Byelorussian language as “actually dead” and “not naturalized” in Belarus. The SB journalist said during the trial he sees an “element of contempt” in the way the publicists discussed the Byelorussian language.
Pavlovets’ lawyer Kristina Marchuk called the stand of respondents destructive, adding that defamation and slander on the web is deemed as a crime. “Our stand is clear: there was a fact of offence to Yuri Pavlovets’ dignity by ‘SB Belarus Segodnya’ newspaper, and first of all, by Yevgeny Kononovich. We consider it an evident fact,” Marchuk said.
To recall, on December 16, 2016, “Sovetskaya Belorussia” newspaper website posted Yevgeny Kononovich’s article “Taken at word” wherein Kononovich ascribes Yuri Pavlovets – who was already arrested over the case against pro-Russian publicists - statements that he did not make. Actually, Kononovich did not care that his colleague was arrested over suspicion of stirring up national hatred and such articles would affect the investigation and public attitude to the case. At first, the arrested journalist’s wife, Lubov Pavlovets, appealed to SB newspaper’s editorial staff and asked them to publish a refutation. In response, the editorial staff refused “to hold any talks with her.” Afterwards, Pavlovets decided to file an anti-defamation lawsuit. On July 14, the preliminary trial was held. The next trial is set for July 24.