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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Belarus. Repression against the opposition. Debate in the European Parliament

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A debate was held in the European Parliament on the repression of the Belarusian opposition, including Andrzej Poczobut. – Lukashenko’s Belarus is a textbook dictatorship. Dissidents are enemies of the state, they must be destroyed, said Lithuanian MEP Petras Austrevicius. PiS MEP Anna Fotyga stressed that “this is not the time to negotiate with Lukashenka”. “We need to strengthen the sanctions,” she added.

Sandra Kalniete, MP of the European People’s Party, argued that “all sanctions affecting Russiashould also affect Belarus.” – Russia’s political and diplomatic isolation should be extended to Belarus. Any investigations and cases against Russia in international tribunals should also take into account the role of Belarus – said the Latvian.

– Lukashenko’s Belarus is a textbook dictatorship. Dissidents are enemies of the state, they must be destroyed. Otherwise, independent and critical voices become a threat to the monopoly of power, said Petras Austrevicius, a Lithuanian MP from the Renew Europe faction.

Vladimir Putin and Alexander Lukashenko kremlin.ru

Green MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel named Belarusian oppositionists, including Ales Bialiatski and Andrzej Poczobut. – They are fighting for a different Belarus, for a democratic Belarus. Every evil empire will eventually fall, and every dictator will suffer the consequences of what he has done.

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Anna Fotyga from PiS noted that “Belarusian society loves peace, freedom and democracy.” – This is not the time to negotiate with Lukashenko. Sanctions need to be strengthened, she added.

– Andrzej Poczobut is a long-time symbol of the struggle for the rights of Poles in Belarus, persecuted for many years by the regime. Freedom for Poczobut is a fight for the future of Europe, which is why it is important that the political and economic pressure of the European Union against the regimes of Lukashenko and Putin is relentless, assessed PO MEP Tomasz Frankowski.

Andrzej Poczobut sentenced

On Wednesday, February 8, the district court in Grodno sentenced Poczobut, an activist of the independent Union of Poles in Belarus and a journalist, to eight years in a high-security penal colony. Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs it called the political verdict “shameful”.

According to Belarusian practice, if the sentence is appealed, and it is likely that it will, Poczobut will remain in custody at Prison No. 1 in Grodno, his hometown, until the appeal is considered. He has been there since October. Previously, he was detained in detention centers in Zhodzin and Minsk. He has spent almost two years behind bars – since his arrest in March 2021. Since the trial took place before the regional court, the appeal instance is Belarusian Supreme Court.

For over 660 days of being in custody, Poczobut never had the opportunity to meet his relatives and could meet only with lawyers. On January 16, for several minutes of the first trial (later the trial was classified), he could be seen in the courtroom by his closest family – his wife Oksana and his parents. Other people who came to the court could only look into the courtroom through the door that was opened briefly when someone entered or left.

Andrew PoczobutLEONID SHCHEGLOV/AFP/East News

The announcement of the verdict was the second opportunity to see Poczobut. This time, the wife and daughter of Andrzej Poczobut and the parents of Andrzej Poczobut were allowed into the courtroom. The few places in the room were occupied by journalists of the state media. During the investigation and trial, the activist’s relatives did not receive a single visitation permit. Now, after the verdict is announced, the court should give permission for such a meeting, which will take place on the premises of the detention center.

Organizations human rights recognize Poczobut as a political prisoner and the treatment of him as politically motivated. The Polish authorities and the international community appeal to the Belarusian authorities to release the activist and to stop the repression of representatives of minorities.

The Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs claims that the undemocratic authorities of Belarus are holding Poczobut as a “hostage of Polish-Belarusian relations”. The Polish Ministry of Diplomacy assures that it is taking actions – open and private – to release him.

Main photo source: LEONID SHCHEGLOV/AFP/East News

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