Polish Lukashenko critic faces jail

Published on 29 March 2011 at 10:25

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“They are afraid of Poczobut” headlines Gazeta Wyborcza after prosecutors pressed charges against the Warsaw daily’s Grodno [Belrusian city close to Polish border] correspondent and Polish minority activist Andrzej Poczobut on 28 March for allegedly insulting Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko. Poczobut could face two years behind bars for eight articles published in Gazeta Wyborcza and two texts posted on the internet that, according to Belarusian prosecutors, included “groundless fabrications” against Lukashenko that damage his “honour and dignity.” A correspondent of the Warsaw daily since 2006, Poczobut has regularly criticised Lukashenko’s regime for persecuting the opposition and independent media, lack of democracy and corruption. “My case has a broader context and may be the first step to Lukashenko’s announced ‘cleaning up’ of the Internet, the only forum of free discussion in Belarus”, Poczobut tells Gazeta Wyborcza.

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