Belarus detains 40 members of banned Polish group

Associated Press

Up to 40 members of a banned ethnic Polish group have been detained in Belarus en route to a court hearing on the fate of a Polish cultural center in the former Soviet republic.

An Associated Press photographer saw police detain several dozen Union of Poles activists Monday on a street in Volozhin city, about 45 miles (75 kilometers) from the capital, Minsk.

Group spokesman Ihar Bancar said by telephone that he and four others would be held for five days, while leader Andzelika Borys was fined about $300.

Since the Union of Poles was banned five years ago its activists have been kept under surveillance in the authoritarian state.

Ethnic Poles make up around 5 percent of Belarus' 10 million population and are vociferous proponents of democratic reform.


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