Poland recalls ambassador to Belarus over activists' HQ seizure

Poland called its ambassador to Minsk back to Warsaw on Tuesday for consultations on a property dispute between the Belarusian government and a Polish minority group in the former Soviet state.

On Monday, police and legal authorities seized the Polish House, owned by the Union of Poles in Belarus. Police cordoned off the building, ownership of which has always been contested by the Belarusian authorities, and Union activists were forced out.

"The ambassador was recalled over the conflict around the Polish House in Ivenets [some 60 miles west of Minsk]," a spokesman for the Polish Embassy in Minsk told RIA Novosti.

According to the Polish Embassy, Belarusian Ambassador to Poland Viktor Gaisyonok was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry on Monday. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Kremer expressed his concerns over police measures in Ivenets.

The Union of Poles in Belarus was established in 1990 to unite Polish culture and education societies in Belarus. After the Union split in 2005, the part loyal to the government in Minsk was officially recognized, while the unrecognized wing, led by Anzhelika Boris, went into opposition against the authorities.

On January 21, Teresa Sobol was elected leader of the unofficial wing, replacing Boris. Belarusian police arrested 46 activists of the independent Union of Poles in Belarus later that day.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on January 26 that Warsaw would ask the EU and the IMF to demand that Minsk "stop repression of the Union of Poles in Belarus."

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry has yet to comment on the incident.

MINSK, February 9 (RIA Novosti)


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