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A court located in Grodno, Belarus, handed down an eight-year jail term to Andrzej Poczobut, who is a Belarusian-Polish journalist and defender of the Polish minority.
Poczobut was arrested in March 2021 on charges of “instigating hatred against religious and national grounds and rehabilitating Nazism.”
The proceedings of his court case began behind closed doors on January 16.
A renowned Belarusian journalist who had worked for Poland’s Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper for a long time, Poczobut was also an advocate for the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB). Unfortunately, this Polish minority organisation has been outlawed by the Belarusian government.
Poczobut is internationally recognised as a political prisoner. Poland and other countries have repeatedly appealed for his release.
The Polish foreign ministry on Wednesday condemned the verdict, calling it “an unjust ruling by the court of an authoritarian state.”
Lukasz Jasina, the representative of the ministry, referred to Poczobut as “a Polish and Belarusian patriot,” and stated that Poland will remain dedicated to helping him.
“We’re standing and will continue to stand by him,” he added.
Poczubot’s punishment has been issued as the government of Belarus, as reported by opposition groups, is intensifying its grip on the nation by means of detentions and purges in large numbers.