Andzelika Borys has been elected president of the Union of Poles in Belarus by 148 votes to 15 (photo - archive: polskie radio).
The election meeting in Grudno was the first time the union has been allowed to meet freely in Belarus in four years. The elections took place, however, under heavy supervision from Belarusian police and 16 out of the 174 delegates preferred to stay away.
Many of them had been questioned by security police and harassed, they maintain, and accused of taking part in the activities of a still unregistered organisation.
But the fact that the elections took place at all - for the head of an organisation that President Lukashenko has previously considered to be in opposition to him - is a sign of the continuing thaw in relations between Poland and Belarus.
Borys has led the union of Poles in Belarus since 2005, though her appointment was never acknowledged by the Belarusian authorities. When she was first elected, President Lukaskenko's regime insisted on repeating the ballot, when Jozef Lucznik, a candidate favourable to Minsk, was elected.
Lucznik, in turn, has never been acknowledged by Warsaw as a legitimate chief of the union.
Ethnic Poles make up around five percent of the Belarusian population. (pg)