Poland has taken action against numerous individuals from Belarus by imposing sanctions on 365 citizens and freezing the financial and economic assets of 20 entities and 16 other individuals associated with the Russian capital. The decision came after the Belarusian Supreme Court upheld the prison sentence of a Polish minority leader, as announced by the country’s interior minister.
As part of the sanctions, the 365 Belarusians affected will be prohibited from entering the Schengen Area. This move follows the rejection of Andrzej Poczobut’s appeal against an eight-year prison sentence, an event that prompted Mariusz Kaminski, the interior minister, to express the government’s intention to impose sanctions.
Prominent Journalist Andrzej Poczobut’s Conviction Deepens Poland-Belarus Strain
Andrzej Poczobut, a prominent journalist in Belarus and a longstanding correspondent for Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper, was also an activist for the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), a Polish minority organization that has been outlawed by Belarusian authorities. He was found guilty in February of “intentional actions aimed at inciting hostility and hatred on national, religious, and social grounds.”
Poland has demanded his unconditional release and accused the Belarusian regime of fabricating charges against him. The international community, recognizing Poczobut as a political prisoner, has joined Poland in calling for his freedom.
This conviction has strained relations between Warsaw and Minsk, resulting in reciprocal diplomatic expulsions and the implementation of border restrictions.
Poland Imposes Wide-ranging Sanctions on Prominent Belarusian Figures
The sanctions list includes Belarusian parliament members, including those who had not been previously subjected to any bans, as well as Viktor Lukashenko, the president’s eldest son, who currently heads the Belarusian Olympic Committee and has previously served as a security advisor. The list also encompasses prominent state media journalists and propagandists, along with Natalia Ejsmant, the spokesperson for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Furthermore, sanctions have been imposed on Ivan Tertel, the head of the State Security Committee (KGB), Andrei Shved, the prosecutor general, and several dozen judges responsible for issuing politically motivated rulings.
Former Belarusian Ambassador Praises Poland’s Bold Sanctions Against Lukashenko’s Regime, Urges International Community to Follow Suit
Former Belarusian ambassador to Poland, Pavel Latushko, commended Poland’s decision to expand the sanctions list, targeting representatives of Lukashenko’s regime and companies associated with Belarusian and Russian capital. He emphasized the significance of Poland’s actions, setting an example for other countries and the European Union, which has been struggling to reach a consensus on implementing a comprehensive sanctions package.
Latushko believes that this move sends a powerful message to the dictatorship, holding it accountable for the crimes committed against Belarusian citizens and members of the Polish minority residing in Belarus.