Polish diplomats on Belarusian situation

The Polish Foreign Ministry has called Poland's Ambassador to Belarus, Henryk Litwin, for consultations in Warsaw after Belarusian police ousted members of the Polish minority from their headquarters in Ivyanets, near Minsk.

Diplomats in Warsaw have also summoned the Belarussian Ambassador resident in Warsaw for talks.

Andzelika Borys, head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, an organisation not recognised by the authorities in Minsk, said it was the severest strike yet against the Polish minority.

"The same scenario was repeated as in 2005 when people were thrown out of the Polish centre in Grodno", Borys said. "OMON police pulled old people out of the Polish House in Ivyanets and took over the building by force".

She also informed that several Polish activists had been detained.

Polish consul Marek Martinek said that the centre had been taken over on behalf of a pro-government Polish organisation that is recognised by the authorities in Minsk.

A court is to decide on 15 February who is the legal owner of the Polish cultural centre in Ivyanets.

The Union of Poles in Belarus represents a Polish minority amounting to around 400,000. In 2005, Lukashenko launched a campaign against the Poles, claiming that it was a "fifth column" trying to destabilise his regime.


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