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Personal Hell of Andrzej Poczobut. How to force Lukashenko to release the hero?

Picket in front of the Belarusian consulate in Bialystok in support of Andrzej Poczobut. Photo: PAP/Artur Reszko
Picket in front of the Belarusian consulate in Bialystok in support of Andrzej Poczobut. Photo: PAP/Artur Reszko

Pavel Latushka for

There is only one effective way to counter Lukashenko's pressure - to communicate with the dictator using the only language he comprehends.

On April 16, Andrzej Poczobut once again marks his birthday behind bars. For over three years, Andrzej, this courageous activist of the Polish minority, an honest journalist, and an unwavering champion of truth, freedom, and democracy, has been held hostage.

He is one of the thousands (!) of hostages of the Lukashenko regime, countless political prisoners who have been thrown behind bars by the dictator since the events of 2020.

Three years for a political prisoner in Belarus is not just a period of imprisonment.These three years have been marked by abuse, torture, deprivation of communication with the outside world, lack of access to packages and medicines. It has been three years of living in hell, an ordeal that not everyone can survive.

Contact with Poczobut has been severed. “He is currently isolated from the outside world”

To date, we are aware of six cases of political prisoners who have lost their lives in Belarus. Through torture and denying necessary medical care, the Lukashenko regime has already caused the deaths of Vitold Ashurak, Ales Pushkin, Mikalai Klimovich, Ihar Lednik, and Vadzim Khrasko. On April 10, we received the tragic news of Aliaksandr Kulinich's death. Many political prisoners are confined in solitary confinement, and their health conditions remain unknown. We don't even know for sure if they are alive. Mikalai Statkevich, Ihar Losik, Viktar Babaryka, Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Maksim Znak, Maryia Kalesnikava and many others. We don't know anything about their condition.

Since being transferred to correctional colony No. 1 in the city of Novopolotsk, one of the harshest prisons in Belarus, there has been a severe lack of information regarding Andrzej Poczobut. He has not had any visits, phone calls, or communication with the outside world. He is completely cut off from society. Despite his heart condition, he is not receiving the necessary medications. Since August of last year, Andrzej has been confined to a cell with an even stricter detention regime known as a PKT (cell-type room). During this period, he has been placed in a punishment cell multiple times. Unfortunately, this is all the information we have. Since February 26, all contact with Andrzej has ceased entirely.

Andrzej Poczobut in court
Andrzej Poczobut in court. Source:

Andrzej Poczobut is a resilient man, a symbol of the fight for democracy and our joint Belarusian-Polish hero. Those who know him are confident that he remains steadfast, unwavering in his principles. Andrzej has consistently declined to submit a petition for pardon to Lukashenko, maintaining his stance and expressing it in one of his letters:

"I have no need for pardons. I will not seek contact or make any requests, even under pressure. Such conduct would be morally wrong in cases like mine."

Having been unable to break Andrzej Poczobut's spirit, Lukashenko’s court sentenced him to 8 years in a maximum-security correctional facility on February 8 of the previous year. On May 26 of the same year, Andzrej’s appeal was rejected. Despite Poland's diplomatic efforts, resolutions from international organizations, and the closure of several border crossings in demand for Poczobut's release and that of other political prisoners, the vengeful Lukashenko refuses to comply.

The only way to deal with Lukashenko. "The language of integrity and strength"

Lukashenko, in fact, intensifies the pressure on Andrzej, concurrently escalating his anti-Polish policies. These include increased repression of the Polish national minority in Belarus, the dissolution of Polish organizations, the closure of Polish language schools and courses, the desecration of burial sites and monuments, as well as heightened pressure on the Belarusian-Polish border, even resorting to mobilizing groups of illegal migrants. 

How much longer will this continue? How long will the repression, abuse, and torture of political prisoners endure in Belarus? How long will Lukashenko hold hostages? How long will Andrzej Poczobut's personal hell persist — one year, two years, eight years? How long will Lukashenko's hybrid aggression against Poland and other EU countries persist?

These are not questions that should remain unanswered. I believe that these questions do have answers; however, it requires a resolute political will to provide them. The release of Andrzej Poczobut and other political prisoners, as well as putting an end to the aggression of the Lukashenko regime, can be achieved through determined action.

This individual, if we can even call him that, only understands one language — the language of determination and strength, the language of even greater pressure.

He is not deterred by fences and closed border crossings; they only inconvenience migrants and ordinary Belarusians attempting to cross the border. Essentially, he shows no concern for the possibility of ordinary Belarusians crossing the border. In fact, he would prefer borders that are entirely closed to such movement. This is every dictator's dream.

He does not appear to be greatly concerned about the current trade sanctions and partial restrictions, as their scope is limited. This is especially true when considering Lukashenko's own acknowledgement that trade turnover in certain product categories has actually increased by 3-5 times under these sanctions.

What could truly unsettle him? What form of assertive action could effectively address the situation at the Belarus-Poland border? Which measures could genuinely compel Lukashenko to release Andrzej Poczobut, along with thousands of other political prisoners, and compel him to cease the orchestrated attacks using illegal migrants?

To achieve this, we must adopt the principle that Andrzej Poczobut has exemplified. We must respond to Lukashenko's pressure with even greater pressure, involving China in finding a solution to the Lukashenko problem — completely severing trade communication with Belarus, including railway connections.

Picket in front of the Belarusian consulate in Bialystok in support of Andrzej Poczobut. Photo: Anatol Chomic / Forum
Picket in front of the Belarusian consulate in Bialystok in support of Andrzej Poczobut. Photo: Anatol Chomic / Forum

Our common hero. One for all and all for one

Today, Andrzej Poczobut sends a signal to us all that freedom for an entire country at the heart of Europe is more important than freedom for just one individual. Are we ready to accept and implement this principle—one for all, and all for one? I believe we do not have the luxury of waiting for an answer.

We must adhere to this principle so that our common hero, Andrzej Poczobut, and thousands of other hostages of Lukashenko have a genuine chance at freedom. After all, freedom and the struggle for it should always be grounded in unwavering principles.

Warsaw April 16, 2024 Source:



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