Poland calls on Belarus to stop persecuting its Polish minority
Poland accused Belarus on Wednesday of persecuting its Polish minority after Polish and Belarusian media said the head of a group representing the Polish diaspora had been arrested.
In a worsening diplomatic standoff following tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions this month, the Polish foreign ministry said it had summoned a Belarusian charge d'affaires for discussions on Tuesday evening but gave no further details.
Andżelika Borys, head of the Association of Poles in Belarus, was arrested in the city of Grodno on Tuesday and sentenced to 15 days in prison, Polish media said.
Belarusian media said Borys was being held on charges of violating mass gathering rules, citing the interior ministry. The Association of Poles in Belarus said it feared further "repressions" of the diaspora but would continue its work.
The Belarusian interior ministry was not available for comment and the government issued no statement on her arrest or reports of several other Poles in Belarus being detained.
"We absolutely do not agree with the persecution of Poland's minority in Belarus. These arrests... and these charges are baseless and they are targeting Poland's minority," Michał Dworczyk, the Polish Prime Minister's top aide, said in Warsaw.
At a press conference later on Wednesday, Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called on Belarus to stop persecuting Poles living in its borders. "Such actions are in absolute violation of international standards".
"I'd like to strongly protest against the arrest of Andżelika Borys, head of the Association of Poles in Belarus, and earlier, of Anna Panisheva" - PM Morawiecki said.
"I urge the Belarusian authorities to peacefully resolve its internal problems, without taking hostages. As that's how I understand the recent attack on Polish minority living in Belarus" - the prime minister said. "We aim to build good relations between Poland and Belarus, in peace and friendship".
Poland has criticised the Belarusian leadership under President Alexander Lukashenko, and has hosted Belarusian opposition politicians.
Warsaw has also called for coordinated action to help the protest movement in Belarus, where Lukashenko's opponents say a presidential election last August was rigged to hand victory to him. The president had denied electoral fraud.
The prosecutor's office in the Belarusian city of Brest has also opened a criminal case into suspected glorification of war criminals, following a memorial evening in a Polish school in Belarus dedicated to Poles who fought against the Soviet Union.
Poland expelled two Belarusian diplomats last week after a Polish diplomat was expelled this month.
Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, TVN24
Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Adam Guz/KPRM