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UPDATE: Defence minister fires commanders of Polish soldier who fled to Belarus

17.12.2021 19:30
Poland’s Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak on Friday dismissed the commanding officers of a soldier who had defected to neighbouring Belarus amid border tensions, officials said.
Mariusz Błaszczak
Mariusz BłaszczakPAP/Tomasz Waszczuk

The Polish defence ministry shared the news via Twitter, saying that Błaszczak ousted the commanders of the battery, platoon and battalion in which the soldier had served, the state PAP news agency reported.

Meanwhile, the Polish Army’s Operational Commander, Gen. Tomasz Piotrowski, described the soldier’s disappearance as “an act of defection on the part of a Polish citizen, a man who behaved in a very dishonorable way.”

Gen. Piotrowski poinformował, że mamy do czynienia z haniebną dezercją Gen. Tomasz Piotrowski. Photo: Twitter/@DowOperSZ

Błaszczak earlier said the defector “had serious problems with the law” and “should not have been sent to serve" at the border.

He added that the soldier had tendered his resignation from the army.

Gen. Piotrowski apologised “for this isolated incident,” vowing the Polish Army would “not cease in its efforts” to “mete out justice for this defection.”

The Polish military police force announced an investigation into the defection and said in a statement that, under Polish law, desertion carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.

Reports of a possible defection began to appear earlier on Friday, after the Belarusian State Border Committee announced in the morning that a Polish soldier had applied for asylum across the border.

Poland’s Army Command on Friday confirmed the disappearance of a soldier a day earlier from an artillery regiment, saying the man had been on duty near the border villages of Narewka and Siemianówka and Lake Siemianowskie.

An extensive search operation was ongoing, according to military officials. 

Meanwhile, authorities in Belarus named the Polish soldier as "25-year-old Emil Czeczko," and published photographs from his social media accounts, according to the PAP news agency.

The Belarusian State Border Committee said the man had been detained by a border patrol on Thursday afternoon in Belarus’ Grodno district. It claimed the soldier said he disagreed with Poland’s policy regarding a migration crisis on the two countries' shared border, the Polish state news agency reported.  


Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info