Poland to block Belarusians involved in repression

Polish authorities have announced that they will not allow those who are responsible for violating rights of the Polish minority in Belarus into the country.

From midnight tonight, borders will close to those individuals involved in repressing Poles' living in Belarus' rights and visas will no longer be issued to those people, says Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski following a closed-door meeting with Polish President Lech Kaczynski Monday afternoon.

"The President has sent a letter to President Lukashenko asking for him to personally fix the situation of the Polish minority in Belarus," said spokesperson Wladyslaw Stasiak.

Foreign Minister Sikorski added, following the meeting, that he presented Kaczynski with several dozen scenarios which could come up, should Belarusian authorities not react positively and show steps to repair relations with both the Union of Poles in Belarus and the Polish government.

While the Foreign Minister expressed hope that the Belarusian government will respond favourably, "the timer is ticking for the negative scenarios to play out."

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk spoke with head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Andzelika Borys, by phone on Monday, to inform her of the work being done by both the Polish government and the European Union to ensure that the Polish minority groups' rights are respected by Belarusian authorities.

Head of European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, announced, at a press conference in Warsaw, that the EP will pass a resolution on the situation in Belarus next week and will do everything possible to stop militia aggression against Poles in the country.

"Future relations between Belarus and the EU depend upon the manner with which opposition and national minority groups are treated by Belarusian authorities. It is our main barometer," stated Buzek.

On Monday, Belarusian militia arrested a total of 40 Union of Poles in Belarus members who wanted to attend the court proceedings regarding the group's Polish House in Ivyenets which was seized by authorities a week ago. Union head Andzelika Borys was fined 1 million Belarusian rubles (about 250 euro) by the court today as the Union is not officially recognized by authorities. Three other activists from the Union were sentenced to five days in jail for holding unsanctioned demonstrations in Grodna on 10 February.


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