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Andrzej Poczobut, anniversary of his conviction. Appeal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Poczobut’s release is a priority

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A year has passed since Andrzej Poczobut, journalist and vice-chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus, was sentenced to eight years in prison. The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted in a statement that the release of Poczobut “remains a priority” and his case “is proof of Minsk’s clearly confrontational attitude and indicates the willingness to pursue further degradation of mutual relations.”

In a statement posted on Thursday on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, it was recalled that on February 8, “one year has passed since Andrzej Poczobut, vice-chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus and an independent representative of the Belarusian journalistic community, was sentenced to eight years in prison.”

“His release remains a priority for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” the ministry said.

The statement also stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was firmly against “the use of Poles in Belarus as hostages of the authorities in Minsk” and repeated its appeal for “the immediate, unconditional release and acquittal of Andrzej Poczobut and other political prisoners.”

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Poczobut became a “symbol of unprecedented repression”

The Ministry of Diplomacy emphasized that “arrested in March 2021 and then sentenced in a show trial on February 8, 2023, Poczobut has become a symbol of unprecedented repression, but also of the fight for the rights to cultivate the traditions of ancestors, learn the Polish language and protect places of memory and historical preservation.” “common heritage for Poland and Belarus”.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the Poczobut case “is proof of Minsk’s clearly confrontational attitude and indicates the willingness to strive for further degradation of mutual relations.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs “strongly calls on the Belarusian authorities to respect international law and bilateral agreements regarding the protection of the rights of national minorities.”

It was noted that “the scale of the regime’s repression against its own citizens after the rigged elections in August 2020 is still increasing” and “currently, there are thousands of innocent people in Belarusian prisons and detention centers, and over 1,400 of them are people considered political prisoners.”

“The violence of A. Lukashenko’s regime caused a wave of refugees of Belarusians in 2020-2023 – thousands of Belarusian citizens were forced to leave the country, including a large number to Poland. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs demands the release and clearing of all political prisoners and the immediate detention repression in Belarus,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

READ: Radosław Sikorski met with the Apostolic Nuncio

Andrzej Poczobut Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP/EastNews

List of charges

Sentence of eight years in a maximum-security penal colony for Andrzej Poczobut announced on February 8, 2023, judge of the Grodno Regional Court, Dzmitry Bubienczyk. Poczobut was sent to the penal colony in Nowopolotsk, which is considered one of the worst prisons in the world Belarus.

Poczobut was arrested on March 25, 2021 and has been behind bars since then. In the political trial, which lasted from January 16, 2023, the authorities accused Poczobut, a citizen of Belarus and activist of the Polish minority, of “incitement to hatred”, and his actions – consisting in cultivating Polishness and publishing articles in the media – were attributed to the hallmarks of “rehabilitation of Nazism”. Poczobut was also accused of calling for actions to the detriment of Belarus.

In May last year Supreme Court He rejected Poczobut’s appeal and upheld the verdict.

Organizations human rights they consider Poczobut a political prisoner. The Polish authorities demand Poczobut’s release and his cleansing of politically motivated, false accusations. Available information shows that Poczobut had previously refused – even before the trial – to agree to the condition set by the authorities to leave the country of his citizenship in exchange for his release.

Activist and journalist

Poczobut is an activist and journalist from Grodno. For many years he cooperated with Polish media, including “Gazeta Wyborcza” and TVP Polonia, reporting on the situation in Belarus.

He is an activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, unrecognized by the Belarusian authorities and banned in 2005, and a history enthusiast who devoted much of his time to, among others, researching the fate of Poles in today’s Belarus.

Main photo source: Leonid Shcheglov/Pool via AP/EastNews



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