The Polish Foreign Ministry calls for “an end to the persecution of the Polish minority”, a statement on the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland reads.
The statement notes that the Foreign Ministry expresses its disagreement with the detention of Chairperson of the Union of Poles in Belarus Andżelika Borys. This was announced to the Charge d’Affaires of Belarus, who was summoned to the Polish Foreign Ministry on Tuesday evening.
“The representative of the Belarusian diplomacy received a clear message that the actions of the Belarusian authorities contradict the international obligations of Belarus to protect national minorities and the bilateral Polish-Belarusian obligations to protect the Polish minority.”
The Foreign Ministry points out that the activities of the Union of Poles in Belarus focuses on cultivating Polish culture and traditions, supporting Polish education and learning the Polish language. The arrest of its head is tantamount to ousting Polishness, it affects relations between the countries and traditional Belarusian multiculturalism.
“We call for the release of the President of the Union of Poles in Belarus as soon as possible and for an end to the arbitrary persecution of representatives of the Polish minority,” the statement concludes.
Andżelika Borys was detained and taken to the police on Tuesday evening in Grodno. Later, the official representative of the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Grodno Regional Executive Committee, Igor Belozerov, told the Onliner portal that Andżelika Borys was detained on suspicion of violating the procedure for holding a mass event.
According to unconfirmed information, the detention of Andżelika Borys may be linked to the celebration of the Kazyuki holiday in honour of St. Casimir in Grodno.
Aggravation of Belarusian-Polish relations
On 1 March, Poland celebrates the Cursed Soldiers National Remembrance Day, established in 2011. Members of the anti-Soviet underground groups who fought for the country’s independence in the second half of the 1940s. Among them were the soldiers of the detachment of Romuald Rajs, who burned five villages in Eastern Poland, where Orthodox Belarusians lived. Then 79 people died.
On 9 March, Polish Embassy’s Charge d’Affaires Marcin Wojciechowski was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry to express a protest over the participation of the consul in Brest Jerzy Timofejuk in an event dedicated to the “day of the cursed soldiers”. The Foreign Ministry said that by participating in this event, the Polish representative violated the norms of international law. The consul was suggested to leave the territory of Belarus.
In response, Poland recognized a diplomat from the Belarusian embassy in Warsaw as persona non grata. On 11 March, Marcin Wojciechowski was summoned to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry again. The Polish side was handed a note with a proposal to the head and consul of the Consulate General of Poland in Grodno to leave the territory of Belarus within 48 hours.
On 12 March, the Polish Foreign Ministry expelled two Belarusian consuls in Bialystok and in Warsaw. On March 10, the Brest prosecutor’s office opened a criminal case on the glorification of war criminals.