Belarus sentences ethnic Polish minority activist to 8 years hard labor

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
2 Min Read

An activist for the ethnic Polish minority that lives in Belarus has been sentenced to eight years in a labor camp by a court in Grodno, Belarus, on Wednesday.

Andrzej Poczobut, who is also a journalist, is seen as a leader in the ethnic Polish community, which is increasingly persecuted by Belarusian authorities. Poczobut’s trial was held behind closed doors, meaning that neither his relatives nor the media were able to witness it, and his defense lawyers were also forbidden to report about it.

Poczobut is one of the leaders of the Association of Poles in Belarus, which was banned by the Lukashenko government. He has been held in detention since March 2021.

He was charged with “hate crimes,” resuscitating Nazism, and calling for sanctions to be imposed on Belarus.

Both Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki took to Twitter to condemn the sentence imposed on Poczobut.

“Polish history of the end of the 20th century shows that those who rule on behalf of Moscow against their own society will ultimately fall and justice will be done. A free Belarus will win together with its faithful son Andrzej Poczobut!,” posted Andrzej Duda:

Morawiecki also made a call to “do everything to help the Polish journalist.”

According to Rafał Dzięciołowski, head of the International Solidarity Foundation, the sentencing of Poczobut for eight years of hard labor “represents political vengeance against a man who would not be silenced.”

“Poczobut has consistently revealed the nature of the Lukashenko regime and its hostility to free speech and Belarusian culture; like no one else, he defended Polish identity in Belarus and was an advocate of the republican tradition of striving for freedom,” says Dzięciołowski.

“Unlike many in the West, he had no illusions about Lukashenko being totally dependent on Russia,” he added. 

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