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Belarusian Bailiffs Refused Access To Charged Journalist's Home

Aksana Poczobut (left), wife of jailed activist Andrzej Poczobut, refused to let officials enter their family home.

Aksana Poczobut (left), wife of jailed activist Andrzej Poczobut, refused to let officials enter their family home.

HRODNA, Belarus -- Officials have tried to survey the property of Polish-Belarusian journalist Andrzej Poczobut, who is on trial for insulting President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Poczobut's wife, Aksana Poczobut, told RFE/RL that several men, who identified themselves as court-appointed bailiffs, came to her apartment early on June 21 and said they needed to make a list of the family's property and its value.

They said this was necessary for the possible fines her husband might incur if the court convicts and sentences him.

Aksana Poczobut refused to allow them inside her apartment, telling them that a list of her family's property was already made by KGB officers after her husband was arrested in April.

Poczobut, the Belarus correspondent for the Polish daily "Gazeta Wyborcza," went on trial on June 14 on charges he insulted the "personal dignity and honor" of Lukashenka in newspaper articles and online comments he authored.

He could face up to two years in jail if convicted of insulting the president or up to four years in prison if convicted of libel that damages the "honor and dignity" of the president."

Poczobut's trial is being held behind closed doors.

Poczobut is active in Belarus's Polish community and is a leading member of the embattled Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), a Polish cultural organization.

The authorities' eviction of the ZPB from its office buildings near Minsk last year and the detention by police of its activists strained ties between Belarus and the European Union, as well as between Minsk and Warsaw.

The ZPB has been trying for five years to regain official registration in Belarus.

In 2009, Belarusian officials registered the pro-government Union of Belarusian Poles, an alternative organization representing Poles in Belarus.

The Polish government regards the ZPB as the only legal representative of the Polish minority in Belarus.

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

Read more in Belarusian here