On Thursday morning, the local police started searching the home of Andrzej Poczobut (Andrey Pachobut), a Hrodna-based journalist of Polish origin.
“There are policemen wearing in balaclavas at our place. They are barring me from phoning anyone,” his wife Aksana managed to write on Facebook.
The search was conducted as part of the criminal case opened over ‘incitement to racial, national, religious or other social hatred or discord’ ( Art. 130 of the Criminal Code); the maximum punishment under this article is 12 years of imprisonment. When the raid was over, the officers took Poczobut away. Computer equipment, two laptops and hard drives, seven old phones, were seized. They also confiscated books in the Polish language, conference badges, GrandPress awards, all documents in Polish, including his daughter’s papers.
Andrzej Poczobut is a member of the board of the Union of Poles in Belarus, a contibutor to the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza and TV show Nad Niemnem, as well as the author of the book System Belarus.
A day earlier, the Belarusian authorities sentenced Andżelika Borys, Chairperson of the Union of Poles in Belarus, to 15 days of administrative arrest. She was detained on March, 23; an administrative case was initiated against the woman over allegedly violating the rules of holding mass events (Article 24.23 of the Code of Administrative Offences). Later, it became known that Andżelika Borys was on trial behind the closed doors for her contribution to staging the Kazyuki fair which took place on March, 7 in the city of Hrodna.
In early March, a diplomatic conflict broke out between Warsaw and Minsk over this year’s commemorating the so called Cursed Soldiers by a number of Polish organisations in Belarus.