Nine more arrests of Polish activists in Belarus

Minsk - Belarusian police arrested nine ethnic Polish activists on Tuesday, as a crack-down against opponents to the regime of President Aleksander Lukashenko continued. Undercover officers removed Angelika Boris, leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus (UPB), from her car as she was driving to a court hearing in the capital Minsk.

Eight other UPB members in the Minsk city region also were arrested, a UPB spokeswoman said.

The UPB activists reportedly had intended to attend a hearing of formal charges against Teresa Sobol, a UPB member accused by the Belarusian government of illegally acquiring a house in the city Grodno and receiving foreign funds.

The detentions came in the wake of the arrest of more than 40 UPB members across Belarus on February 15, and a February 10 unsanctioned demonstration by UPB members protesting repression by the Lukashenko regime.

Belarusian officials have claimed ethnic Poles in the country are not discriminated against, and that prosecution against the UPB is necessary as the group is an unregistered organization illegally receiving direct support from the Polish government.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Belarus looks with concern at the ongoing anti-Belarusian campaign in Poland," said Andrei Popov, a Belarus government spokesman.

Popov's statement came in response to a Monday letter by Polish President Lech Kaczyski expressing his concern about the repression of the Union of Poles in Belarus, the Belapan news agency reported.


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