People of Word (32)

PEN Belarus statement on sentence in Andrzej Poczobut's trial

Journalist and essayist Andrzej Poczobut has been sentenced to eight years in a medium-security penal colony.

On February 8, 2023, a court in Hrodna sentenced independent journalist and social activist Andrzej Poczobut. The hearing was held in closed session with Dzmitry Bubenčyk as a judge.

Andrzej Poczobut was charged with incitement to sanction Belarus (under Art. 361.3 of the Belarusian CC) and advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred (Art. 130.3 of the Belarusian CC).

After his home was searched, Andrzej Poczobut was detained in Hrodna on March 25, 2021.

On October 4, 2022, the KGB put the journalist on a “list of individuals involved in terrorist activities.”

Despite serious health problems, Andrzej Poczobut has been placed in a single-person cell. Correspondence with the journalist is being blocked, especially in that Polish.

Andrzej Poczobut is an essayist, journalist, columnist, blogger, poet, musician, and author of the book System Belarus (2013), in which he addressed the problems of Belarus and other post-Soviet countries. For more information about Andrzej Poczobut’s art and cultural activity, visit the Belarusian PEN’s website.

Andrzej Poczobut consistently described the USSR’s invasion of Poland in 1939 as “an act of aggression” and shared factual information about the persecution of the Polish minority in Belarus.

On March 31, 2021, human rights activists recognized Andrzej Poczobut as a political prisoner. They called for his immediate release from detention as well as an end to all criminal proceedings against him, an end to pressure and persecution of the Polish national minority, and an end to the use of Article 130 of the Belarusian Criminal Code as punishment for expressing opinions about historical facts, which is inconsistent with the Republic of Belarus’ obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

PEN Belarus condemns the unjust sentence against Andrzej Poczobut and the persecution of the Polish minority in Belarus.