Two Poles put in jail in Belarus

Poland's former ambassador to Belarus, Mariusz Maszkiewicz, has been sentenced to 15 days in prison for taking part in an illegal rally in Minsk last week.

Journalist Weronika Samolinska of the Gazeta Wyborcza daily has been jailed for 10 days. They were both detained last Friday during a demonstration by opposition supporters. The Foreign Ministry in Warsaw says that the former ambassador had been beaten up twice by Belarussian security forces.

The Foreign Ministry has sent a formal note to Minsk demanding an explanation. Poland closed its consulate in Grodno, western Barus, in response to the detention of the Polish consul at the border crossing.

Meanwhile, a picket has been staged in front of the Polish embassy in Minsk in protest against Warsaw's alleged interference into the domestic affairs of Belarus. One of the banners says: Kaczynski and Walesa, it's better to be the last dictatorship of Europe than the first prostitute of the United States.