3 June 2004


Supreme court ruling threatens newspaper's survival

Incident details

Marina Koktysh, Eleonora Yazerskaya

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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has voiced concern that "Narodnaya Volya" newspaper may be forced to close following a Supreme Court panel's confirmation of a 50 million ruble (approx. US$23,000; 20,000 euros) damages award against the paper for libelling former state television chief Yahor Rybakov.

RSF urged the court to review the 31 May 2004 decision, to ensure the damages are proportional to the offence. The organisation said the paper's closure would "greatly worsen the already difficult press freedom situation" in the country.

The Supreme Court panel reduced an earlier damages award pronounced against journalist Marina Koktysh, of "Narodnaya Volya", and former state television presenter Eleonora Yazerskaya to 1 million rubles (approx. US$460; 400 euros) each, but the decision against "Narodnaya Volya" was upheld. Editor-in-chief Iosif Seredich said the amount would "inevitably force the paper to close."

A Minsk court imposed the damages on 17 November 2003 for an October 2001 interview in the paper with Yazerskaya, in which she said Rybakov was a "bad manager."


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