Poland likely to extend sanctions on Belarus after arrests of Polish activists

TVN24 | TVN24 News in English

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TVN24 News in English, Reuters, PAP

The chief of Poland's prime minister's office on Thursday said a judge from Belarus, who had ordered the arrest of Polish diaspora association chief Andżelika Borys, would be indefinitely banned from entering Poland. Michał Dworczyk earlier that day told TVN24 about "persecution of the Polish minority" carried out by Belarusian media. "This is a deliberate attempt by Belarusian authorities to create tensions between Poles and Belarusians" - he said about the arrest of Polish activist Andrzej Poczobut. Polish authorities did not exclude extending of sanctions already imposed on Belarus.

Poland could extend sanctions against Belarus, a deputy foreign minister said on Thursday, as a diplomatic spat between the two countries escalates after Belarusian authorities detained two Poles this week.

"The Belarusian government's unfriendly behaviour will be met with an adequate response from Poland. There is a chance of extending sanctions," Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz told Polish state news agency PAP on Thursday.

Judge banned from Poland

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. The verdict will be appealed against in higher court. The trial was held in a detention centre in Grodno on Wednesday. According to the authorities, Borys was supposed to have violated law on mass gatherings.

Chief of Poland's prime minister's office Michał Dworczyk said at a press briefing on Thursday the government would do its best to help Poles persecuted in Belarus. "In line with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's guidelines, as of today, the judge who had sentenced Ms Andżelika Borys to 15 days in prison has been indefinitely banned from entering the Republic of Poland" - Mr Dworczyk said.

He added that PM Morawiecki would "bring up the question of Polish minority repressed in Belarus" at the European Council session.

European Union Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell has urged Belarus in a statement to immediately release Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut, as well as other political prisoners. Earlier on, The European Commission had issued a similar statement.

Andrzej Poczobut arrested

A diplomatic row between Belarus and Poland looks set to worsen after Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist, activist and member of an association representing the Polish diaspora, was detained in Belarus on Thursday.

Michał Dworczyk said Poczobut was allegedly facing allegations of "inciting feuds between nationalities" and denounced the move as intimidation against the Polish diaspora.

"This is a deliberate attempt by Belarusian authorities to create tensions between Poles and Belarusians" - he said.

His detention follows the arrest of several other Poles in Belarus.

Tit for tat

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.

Autor:gf

Źródło: TVN24 News in English, Reuters, PAP

Źródło zdjęcia głównego: Rafal Malko / Agencja Gazeta