Polish community leader in Belarus to remain in custody

Rafał Guz/PAP

Andrzej Poczobut, a board member of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB) and a journalist, detained under the criminal charge of "incitement to hatred," will remain in custody.

Poczobut, initially detained for 72 hours, on Saturday was taken to a jail in the capital of Belarus, where he is to remain, according to a PAP source. Investigative proceedings and hearings are likely to start on Monday or Tuesday.

Poczobut and two other members of the board of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Irena Biernacka and Maria Tiszkowska, were detained by the Belarusian authorities under criminal charges on Thursday.

Andzelika Borys, the head of Union of Poles in Belarus, had been arrested for "having organised an illegal mass-scale event" a day earlier. She was sentenced to 15 days in jail.

According to a PAP source, Borys, Biernacka and Tiszkowska are also being held in a Minsk prison.

The four Polish community activists have been charged with incitement to racial hatred and "Nazism rehabilitation." According to the Belarusian general prosecution, they have been organising illegal mass-scale events since 2018, during which anti-Soviet fighters were honoured.

They face five to 12 years imprisonment.

ZPB is the largest Polish community organisation operating in Belarus. In 2005, the country’s authorities revoked its registration.