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Belarusian High Court Orders AP Reporter To Disavow Radioactive-Milk Story

Associated Press reporter Yuras Karmanau
Associated Press reporter Yuras Karmanau

A Belarusian court has ordered an Associated Press reporter to disavow a report he wrote showing high levels of radioactivity in milk produced near the Belarusian territory irradiated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Yuras Karmanau visited a dairy farm in the area and obtained a milk sample. Testing by Belarus's state-run Minsk Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology found the radioactive isotope Strontium-90 in the milk sample at a concentration 10 times higher than Belarusian law allows.

The state-run Milkavita dairy products plant, whose supply chain includes that farm's milk, sued Karmanau on the grounds that his reporting damaged the company's reputation.

The Supreme Court ordered reporter Yuras Karmanau to pay for Milkavita's legal costs.

It also ordered him to write a letter to AP’s management in New York, saying the laboratory test results Karmanau commissioned as part of his report "do not correspond with reality."

AP issued a statement on March 16 saying it "unreservedly stands" behind Karmanau. The news agency said a lower court denied Karmanau's motions to introduce evidence from the test or show how the sample was collected.

Dairy and other agriculture exports make up a sizable part of Belarus's exports.

Based on reporting by AP
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