Journalist Andrzej Poczobut sentenced to 8 years in prison

08.02.2023 Source: Служба маніторынгу Беларускай асацыяцыі журналістаў

Today, February 8, Hrodna Regional Court Judge Dzmitry Bubenchyk sentenced journalist and Polish minority activist Andrzej Poczobut to eight years of imprisonment.

The trial began on 16 January and was held in camera. Andrzej Poczobut was charged with encouraging actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus and inciting ethnic hostility.

Judge Dzmitry Bubenchyk is known for his political sentences. He punished people who condemned the war in Ukraine, who expressed disagreement with Lukashenka’s regime and the use of violence by security forces.

An action of solidarity with Andrzej Poczobut, organized by local activists, acquaintances, colleagues and friends of the journalist, will take place today in Bialystok, Poland.

Andrzej Poczobut is a journalist and a leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus that had been shut down by the authorities. He was arrested on 25 March 2021 in Hrodna in the so-called “Polish case,” together with other activists of the Polish minority public organization.

Andrzej Poczobut was accused of “inciting ethnic hostility” for his article about the Soviet attack on Poland in September 1939. In the text, Poczobut called the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939 “aggression”. He was also charged with statements in defense of the Polish minority in Belarus, articles in the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza about the Belarusian protests in 2020, and a text in Magazyn Polski dedicated to Anatol Radzivonik, one of the commanders of the Polish anti-party underground in Hrodna.

During his almost two years in custody, the journalist’s family could not visit him, his letters were censored and correspondence with his 12-year-old son was blocked, while his lawyers remained silent for fear of being disbarred.

Soon after his detention, the authorities started pressuring the political prisoner to write a pardon petition to Lukashenka, saying that the majority of “separatists in the Polish case” had already done so and were now in Poland or under house arrest. Andrzej Poczobut refused.

In one of his letters, the journalist writes:

“Many things have changed, but in spite of this, I am in a good mood, and I am inspired by the fates of people imprisoned during Stalin’s times. With many of them I had the honor to be personally acquainted. Now I remember their stories, and they – many already from the next world – give me faith, confidence and optimism.”