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One hundred days have passed since Lukashenko’s police dragged Andrzej Poczobut out of his apartment in Hrodna. Day by day, we are counting the time as our foreign correspondent remains in detention in Belarus. We encourage our readers to send letters to the harsh prison in Zhodzina near Minsk where he is being held. We appeal to international organizations, including EU institutions.

Andrzej is being treated worse and worse. He refused to leave Belarus for Poland (it would mean exile), so the Belarusian regime labeled him an extremist. He has been infected with the coronavirus- a typical form of harassment of imprisoned oppositionists- and he has not received any medical treatment, despite the fact that he’s taking it especially badly.  It must be said loud and clear: this is torture.

We are in constant contact with his wife Oksana, who does not receive any of his letters. "I hope he survives this"- she repeats.

Polish authorities went silent

In the first hours following his arrest, the whole country stood behind Andrzej. Our journalists stood shoulder to shoulder with ruling camp politicians. Unfortunately, 100 days have passed and the imprisoned journalist no longer evokes the emotions he once did - politicians are busy rescuing their sinking ship called "the government". When 10 years ago Andrzej was arrested for insulting Lukashenko, a 'hotline' was established between our editorial office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Now the ministry remains silent. I realize that Polish diplomacy does not have many assets and, what is even worse, no allies. Foreign policy mistakes fire back.

Journalistic organizations and our colleagues from other outlets have also shown their great support. We would like to thank them on behalf of Andrzej.

Sanctions for Lukashenko’s footmen  

We will demand that those responsible for the arrest and torture of our friend be put on the EU sanctions list. The head of Zhodzina prison, Dzmitry Strebkou, is already on it. Now it is time for his deputies, prison officers, and prosecutors.

Despite his detention, Andrzej Poczobut shows great strength and resilience. We remain hopeful that we will soon meet in our editorial office at Czerska street in Warsaw.

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Every day, 400 journalists at Gazeta Wyborcza write verified, fact-checked stories about Polish politics and society, keeping a critical eye on the ruling camp’s persistent assault on democratic values and the rule of law; the growing cultural tension between religious fundamentalism and human rights; and the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. Our journalists are on the front lines in 25 Polish cities, reporting from the streets, hospitals, and courtrooms about issues that move public opinion.

We decided to make our service available to everyone free of charge in order to provide access to high quality journalism for expats and English speakers interested in Polish affairs. 

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