Lukashenka’s stooge Vaskrasenski urges jailed Polish activist Poczobut to ask for mercy. Latter refuses

According to our own information, pro-Lukashenka activist Yury Vaskrasenski has sent three letters to journalist and political prisoner Andrzej Poczobut, asking him to file a petition for pardon.

Аndrzej Poczobut. Photo: Анджей Почобут / Facebook

In the summer of 2020, Yury Vaskrasenski was a member of the initiative group for collecting signatures for the wannabe presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. Amid post-election protests, he was arrested; however, in October, Vaskrasenski was released from custody the next day after Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to the KGB pre-trial detention centre. Soon after the release, Vaskrasenski started writing letters to political prisoners, urging them to ask Lukashenka for clemency.

In his letters, Yury Vaskrasenski says that he will be seeking Poczobut’s release even if he fails to address Lukashenka. In turn, Poczobut stresses that he did not authorize anyone to act in this way, including Vaskrasenski.

In late August, the Belarusian authorities extended the detention of political prisoner Andrzej Poczobut for another three months.

Belarusian authorities use pardons to save face, human rights defender claims

As reported earlier, the political prisoner was allegedly deprived of necessary medicines behind bars. Andrzej asked to hand medicines over to him, wife Aksana Poczobut said. On May 27, the defence lawyer brought them to the pre-trial detention centre. However, on May 31, the man resubmitted his request, which means that he hardly received them. Aksana was worried about Andrzej because he had heart issues: the cardiac rhythm was wrong, so the medicines were vital. In June, he had COVID-19.

Andrzej Poczobut is one of five arrested leaders of the Polish minority; the Belarusian security services apprehended them as part of the so-called Polish case. On June 2, Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that three Polish minority activists from Belarus – Irena Biernacka, Maria Tiszkowska and Anna Paniszewa – arrived in Poland on May 25 ‘as a result of efforts by Polish diplomatic and consular services’. According to our information, the Belarusian authorities made the three women’s return to the country impossible by imposing travel restrictions on them before taking the arrestees to the Belarusian-Polish border.

Earlier, Belsat TV Director Agnieszka Romaszewska-Guzy got information that Andrzej Poczobut was offered to be deported from the country, but he flatly refused. In the letters to his wife, the journalist says that he will come through everything that the future holds for him.

What protests in Belarus, Belsat TV, Poles’ Union have in common: Kremlin’s version

This spring, the Belarusian Prosecutor General’s Office initiated a criminal case against Andżelika Borys, Chairperson of the Union of Poles in Belarus, and other members of the organisation.

They are charged under Art. 130-3 of the Criminal Code (‘deliberate actions aimed at inciting national and religious hatred according to national, religious, language, other social affiliation, as well as through justifying Nazism, which were committed by a group of persons’). According to them, the Polish activists’ recent aсtivity, i.e. holding some events, is relevant to ‘the rehabilitation of Nazism and justifying the genocide of the Belarusian people’.

On March 25, homes of some members of the Union of Poles in Belarus were raided as part of the criminal case. Belarusian security officers made unexpected visits to Hrodna-based journalist Andrzej Poczobut (he was later arrested and taken to Minsk for interrogation); Maria Tiszkowska, the director of the UPB public school in Vaukavysk; Irena Biernacka, the head of the Lida branch of the Union. The police also came to the Polish public school and the headquarters of the Union of Poles in Hrodna. The search of the office lasted eight hours, from 9 am to 5 pm. Poczobut, Biernacka, Tiszkowska, Borys were taken into custody.

On March 12, Anna Paniszewa, the director of Polish School, was arrested on her way to Belarus from Poland. Shortly before the detention, Paniszewa posted an appeal to the public; she believes that the authorities fabricate the charges, aiming at the liquidation of the school.

Brest authorities close ‘Polish School’ over ‘devaluation of historical memory’