February 21. 2024. 7:19

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Poland threatens Belarus with sanctions for sentencing Polish activist

Poland threatened Minsk with sanctions after a court in Grodno sentenced Andrzej Poczobut, Polish-Belarusian journalist and activist living in Belarus, to eight years in prison.

Poles living in Belarus, as well as minority organisations and their activists, are having a hard time, particularly as Belarus has started closing down Polish schools to replace them with Russian-language ones. The EU, the US and others have condemned the situation.

For activist Poczobut, detained since 2021 for inciting hatred and acting to the detriment of Belarus, the trial began on 16 January. Andżelika Borys, another activist of Polish nationality, has also been detained since 2021.

On 8 February, Poczobut was sentenced to eight years imprisonment.

Following the decision, the chargé d’affaires of the Belarusian embassy was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry.

The sentence against Poczobut is not just, and Belarus’ treatment of those fighting for the country’s freedom is “shameful”, ministry spokesman Lukasz Jasina explained.

In a resolution, the lower house of Poland’s parliament condemned Poczobut’s detention.

Poland and the EU subjects representatives of the Belarusian repression apparatus – “judges, prosecutors, officials and others who took part in the persecution of Andrzej Poczobut and our compatriots in Belarus” – to personal sanctions, the document reads.

Meanwhile, Poland’s Interior Minister announced it was preparing sanctions against Belarus, such as closing the border in Bobrowniki.

It also called on the entire EU to create a list of economic restrictions against the government in Minsk.

“The Polish history of the late 20th century shows that Moscow’s viceroyalties standing against their own people must fall, and justice will win. Free Belarus and its faithful son Andrzej Poczobut will win,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Polish authorities would do everything to help the journalist who “courageously shows the truth”, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki promised.

(Bartosz Sieniawski | EURACTIV.pl)