Wife Refuses To Answer Questions In 'Lukashenka Insult' Probe

HRODNA, Belarus -- The wife of a Polish-Belarusian journalist charged with insulting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka says she has refused to answer prosecutors' questions about her husband's case, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Andrzej Poczobut, a correspondent for the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza" in western Belarus, was charged last month with insulting the personal dignity and honor of the president in newspaper articles and online comments.

His wife, Aksana, told journalists that an investigator from the Hrodna city prosecutor's office, Arseni Nikolski, summoned her to his office on April 6 for questioning about her husband's case.

Aksana Poczobut said she refused to answer any questions, claiming she had a right not to testify against her relatives.

If found guilty, Poczobut, who is also a leading member of the embattled Polish cultural organization, the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), could face up to two years in jail.

The 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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