The arrest of Andrzej Poczobut raises many questions to the authorities, to the politicians who plan to run in “elections” and the West.
Lightning is said to never strike twice in the same place twice. It's not true with Belarusian journalists. Andrzej Poczobut, who already has a 3-year suspended sentence, has been arrested again. It seems it became an ordinary thing that everyone in Belarus can be arrested on the most absurd accusations. But a thought you talk to someone one day and the next day he will be thrown to jail still hurts you.
A prominent journalist has again been accused of libel against the president. This time libel was found in his articles on charter97.org website. The official document reads, “in accordance with a conclusion of experts, the publications contain words, phrases and expressions in relation to the President of the Republic of Belarus that are referred to libel and discredit the Republic of Belarus.”
No one is able to discredit the country more than Lukashenka does. He has been discrediting it every day for almost 20 years of his untalented and bloody rule: killings of opponents, fraudulent elections, arrests of dissidents, suppression of any protests, insulting and obscene remarks towards European politicians. The list can be continued further. What concerns defamation of this maniac in power, everyone can do it. Even children, who don't know all “delights” of living under Lukashism, ask him “Are you a fool?”
It's not just an attempt to scare independent journalists so that their hands shake every time they write down “L-u-k-a-s-h-e-n-k-a”.
Andrzej Poczobut was arrested two days after the date of the “parliamentary elections” was announced. In 2010, founder of charter97.org website Aleh Byabenin was killed three days before announcing the date of the “presidential election”. It was clear no elections were possible in the country. Aleh's death was a warning to us – encroachment on the throne will be punished severely, not even in accordance with the code of underworld.
Poczobut's arrest is a signal too. No one believes the “elections” will be free. It was not so during 20 years and it will never happen under Lukashenka's rule. How the people, who take part in this farce, look today, when political prisoners have not been released and dissidents are thrown behind bars again?
Don't tell us you will be “working with voters”. I tried to imagine this door-to-door campaign. “Hello! I am your candidate. Vote for me. There's a dictator in power, but I am a democrat and I want to change your life for the better.” A question arouses: How can you change something if the dictator is in power?
A candidate from, for example, the UCP party comes: “Hello, I am your candidate. Here is my programme, you can read it. But don't vote for me and don't go to a polling station.” Enough for calling a mental health team.
By their running in the “elections” these politicians will produce an appearance that political life in Belarus is possible. Alas, it is impossible!
If journalists are still being thrown into jails; if there's an order to break down or bury political prisoners; if taking part in peaceful protest rallies will be equated to “terrorism”; if you, dear party leaders, go abroad via Russia and fear to hint about extending sanctions against the dictatorship and removing the ice hockey world championship from Minsk – how can we speak about political life? Perhaps, it's time to be honest with yourself and stop deceiving the world assuming airs in an attempt to show your non-existent political weight?
And the last question. What were European officials waiting for when the were dragging introduction of sanctions against the Lukashenka regime? New political prisoners? My congratulations, you've got them.
It's ridiculous to think visa restrictions and sanctions against three Lukashenka “bankrolls” are able scare the dictator. It's even more ridiculous to suppose the release of Andrei Sannikov and Zmitser Bandarenka was a concession in reply to these sanctions. These politicians were freed only because they applied for a pardon under huge pressure. They are hostages, who “can be thrown into prison in two hours”.
Another 18 months should not be lost again, as it happened after the December 19 events. People still rot in prisons and their lives are broken due to hesitation of the European Union. The cruel and unprincipled dictator understands only real force.
We should punch Lukashenka, his family and business fast and accurately.
Natallia Radzina, editor of charter97.org