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Embattled Belarusian Journalist Receives Polish Media Award

Andrzej Poczobut speaks on the courtroom steps after the defamation verdict in July.

Andrzej Poczobut speaks on the courtroom steps after the defamation verdict in July.

HRODNA, Belarus -- A journalist for a top Polish daily convicted in Belarus of defaming President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has received a Polish award, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Poland's Zet Radio selected Andrzej Poczobut as the recipient of an award named after the station's founder, Andrzej Wojciechowski, for his coverage of the situation in Belarus.

Poczobut, a Polish-Belarusian journalist who writes for "Gazeta Wyborcza," was not able to attend the award ceremony in Warsaw on November 18, as he is not allowed to leave Belarus.

His wife, Aksana, traveled to the Polish capital to accept it on his behalf.

Poczobut told RFE/RL that he was very happy to receive the award, and that he considered the choice of himself as recipient an act of solidarity with all journalists in Belarus currently battling adversity.

Poczobut added that the jury had to choose the winner from 10 finalists, and it was decided to choose him, as his articles about Belarus were very popular among Poles.

The Andrzej Wojciechowski award consists of a statuette and a cash prize of 50,000 Polish zlotys (about $15,000).

An ethnic Pole, Poczobut is a Belarusian citizen and leading member of the embattled Union of Poles in Belarus, a cultural organization that has been trying unsuccessfully for several years to regain official registration in Belarus.

In July, Poczobut was found guilty of defaming Lukashenka and given a three-year prison term, suspended for two years.

Poczobut's arrest in April sparked anger in Poland, which took over the European Union's rotating presidency on July 1.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said in June that Poland would use all the EU levers at its disposal to ensure Belarus respects human rights.

Read more in Belarusian here