Press release January 8, 2015
Belarus Fines Publisher for Publishing Books
Freedom House issued the following statement after Belarus’ Minsk Economic Court to fined the Logvinau Publishing House 1 billion rubles (about $90,500) for the unlicensed sale of books.
In response to the decision by Belarus’ Minsk Economic Court to fine the Logvinau Publishing House 1 billion rubles (about $90,500) for the unlicensed sale of books, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The court’s levying a substantial fine against the publishing house shows that the Belarusian government is far from moving to allow greater space for culture and alternative forms of expression,” said Robert Herman, vice president for regional programs. “The idea that an independent publishing house could be fined for selling books without a license that it made every attempt to obtain is purely Orwellian. With a presidential election set for Belarus later this year, the fine is a clear sign that the government has no tolerance for the promotion of independent thought through the printed word.”
Ihar Logvinau founded the Logvinau Publishing House in 2000 and the Logvinau bookstore in 2010, in Minsk. Since opening, it has been the foremost proponent of alternative voices among Belarusian publishers, including by printing the controversial Belarus Press Photo 2011 album. In December 2014, tax authorities alleged that the bookstore’s activities were illegal because the bookstore was not properly registered. The Ministry of Information rejected the company’s registration application eight times, each time claiming the application included minor errors.
Belarus is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2014 , Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2014, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.68 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2014.