'Lukashenka Insult' Journalist Has Apartment Searched

HRODNA -- A Polish-Belarusian journalist charged with insulting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says the KGB has searched his apartment and itemized his possessions, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Andrzej Poczobut, a correspondent for the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" in western Belarus, was charged on March 28 with insulting the personal dignity and honor of the president in eight articles for "Gazeta Wyborcza," in online comments to "Belarusky Partizan," and in his personal blog on LiveJournal.

Poczobut, who is also a leading member of the embattled Polish cultural organization the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), told RFE/RL that three KGB officers searched his family's apartment in the western city of Hrodna on March 29 and itemized his personal property.

Poczobut said he asked the officers the purpose of their actions. They told him that since he insulted Lukashenka, the president has a right to be compensated.

KGB officers also confiscated Poczobut's computer as "the tool of the crime."

If found guilty, Poczobut could face up to two years in jail.

ZPB has been trying to regain official registration in Belarus for the past five years. In 2009, Belarusian officials registered the Union of Belarusian Poles, an alternative organization representing ethnic Poles in Belarus.

But the Polish government recognizes the ZPB as the only legal representative of ethnic Poles in Belarus.

About 4 percent of Belarus's 9.7 million people are ethnic Poles.


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