President Andrzej Duda referred to the imprisonment of Andrzej Poczobut in Davos. – We are constantly demanding his release, he was arrested absolutely illegally, this is an example of authoritarianism and terror on the part of the Belarusian regime – he said.
On Monday trial began in Grodno Andrzej Poczobuta member of the board banned by the Belarusian authorities of the Union of Poles Belarus (ZPB) and a well-known journalist who has been in custody since March 25, 2021. The Polish charge d’affair in Minsk, Marcin Wojciechowski, was not allowed into the courtroom, according to the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Łukasz Jasina.
President Andrzej Duda was asked on Tuesday by journalists in Davos whether the start of Poczobut’s trial may mean that it will be more difficult for Poland to seek his release and what Poland is doing now to allow him to leave the Belarusian prison.
“We have been demanding this release all along, from the very beginning. Of course, the matter is very difficult, it was a demonstration of strength on the part of the Lukashenko regime, this arrest, imprisonment of Mr. Andrzej Poczobut – said Duda.
As he added, Poczobut is a Belarusian citizen, but he is of Polish descent and a Polish activist in Belarus. He assured that Poland was fighting for his release.
– We are fighting for it, but unfortunately, as you can see, the (Belarusian) regime treats it as a sort of bargaining element in the whole situation. The regime has been on the side of Russia in the war with Ukraine from the very beginning, from the first moments of Russian aggression against Ukraine. We, however, stand firmly by Ukraine and support Ukraine, so in a sense we are also opponents here. It certainly does not improve the situation,” Duda said.
– But we demand the release of Andrzej Poczobut all the time. He is, of course, absolutely unlawfully arrested, this is an example of authoritarianism and terror on the part of the Belarusian regime, stressed the president. According to him, everyone should put pressure on Lukashenko’s regime to release political prisoners. “I hope this regime will eventually break,” the president added.
He noted that during the panel in Davos he saw the leader of the Belarusian democratic opposition, Sviatlana Cichanouska. – I believe that the opposition will win, I believe that free Belarus will win sooner or later – stressed Duda.
The trial of Andrzej Poczobut
Poczobut was accused of “inciting hatred” and “rehabilitating Nazism”, as well as calling for sanctions. In October 2022, Poczobut was added to the Belarusian “terrorist list”. Poczobut was to be persuaded to ask Alyaksandr Lukashenko for clemency, but he refused. He is currently in custody in Grodno.
Together with Poczobut, they were also arrested Angelica BorisIrena Biernacka and Maria Tiszkowska from ZPB, as well as Anna Paniszewa, a minority activist from Brest. Borys was released from custody in March 2022, but she is still under criminal proceedings and her status is unclear – according to independent media, she may be under house arrest.
Biernacka, Tiszkowska and Paniszewa managed to leave Belarus last year thanks to the efforts of the Polish authorities. However, they are not allowed to return to their country of nationality.
On November 14, 2022, ZPB activists notified about searches in the apartments of ZPB activists, including Irena Waluś and Renata Dziemiańczuk. It is not known if the women were arrested. According to available information, the authorities have opened a criminal case for “acting on behalf of an unregistered organisation”. The general prosecutor’s office of Belarus informed that the regional prosecutor’s office in Grodno had filed a motion with the court to liquidate the company on the basis of which ZPB operated. The Union of Poles for Belarus was banned by the authorities in 2005. The democratic opposition recognized Poczobut and Borys as political prisoners.
Main photo source: TVN24