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Belarus fines independent journalist

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Minsk (AFP)

The editor of a Belarusian independent news website avoided jail on Monday but was fined by a court in Minsk in a case denounced by rights activists as censorship.

Marina Zolotova, editor-in-chief of the Tut.by website, was fined 7,650 Belarusian rubles ($3,400) for "unauthorised" access to services provided by the state news agency BelTA.

She was detained in August last year with several other journalists. BelTA accused them of failing to pay subscription fees.

Zolotova had faced up to five years in prison after being accused of negligence for failing to control the work of her subordinates who had used BelTA services.

"I was pleased that the sentence turned out to be softer than what the prosecutor had asked," she said in court.

In July last year, a Minsk court jailed independent journalist Dzmitry Halko for four years for allegedly assaulting a police officer.

Ex-Soviet nation Belarus, ranked 155th out of 180 in Reporters Without Borders' world press freedom index, has been ruled with an iron fist by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994.

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