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Polish activist cleared of charges in Belarus: officials

04.04.2023 21:00
Andżelika Borys, head of the Union of Poles in Belarus, has been cleared of false charges by the Belarusian authorities, the Polish government has said.
Andżelika Borys.
Andżelika Borys.PAP/Paweł Supernak

The lifting of allegations against Andżelika Borys was announced by Poland’s foreign ministry on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported

The Polish foreign ministry said in a statement: “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomes the fact that Andżelika Borys was cleared of false allegations. We hope that she will soon be able to visit Poland.”

It added: “The news of the president of the Union of Poles in Belarus being exonerated from false charges is the first good news coming from Minsk in a long time. We believe it to be a token of change of Minsk’s attitude towards Poles in Belarus and its readiness to hold constructive dialogue on bilateral issues.”

Call for release of Andrzej Poczobut

The Polish foreign ministry renewed its call “for the release of Andrzej Poczobut and withdrawal of all charges pressed against him,” adding that the issue “remains our highest priority.”

‘Step in the right direction’ 

The spokesman for the ministry, Łukasz Jasina, later said in a tweet: “We are pleased to see that Andżelika Borys has been cleared of false charges. This is a step in the right direction.”

He added: “We hope that similar decisions will also be made with regard to Andrzej Poczobut and other prisoners. We will not forget you!”

Borys, who led the Union of Poles of Belarus (ZPB), a diaspora organisation that has been outlawed by the regime of Belarusian strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko, was arrested in March 2021.  

Belarusian authorities also detained fellow ZPB activist and journalist Andrzej Poczobut, as well as three more Polish campaigners, Irena Biernacka, Maria Ciszkowska and Anna Paniszewa

All were charged with incitement to hatred, the PAP news agency reported.  

Borys was released from detention in March 2022 and put under house arrest in Belarus’ Grodno region, according to news reports.

In February this year, a court in Grodno sentenced Poczobut to eight years in “a maximum security penal colony” for “incitement to hatred” and “calling for sanctions,” according to a report by the PAP news agency. 

Poczobut is currently awaiting the date of an appeals hearing before Belarus’ Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Biernacka, Ciszkowska and Paniszewa managed to leave Belarus in May 2021, with the help of the Polish government. 

However, they are not allowed to return to Belarus, whose citizenship they hold, the PAP news agency reported. 

In March, Poland’s Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said that its Bobrowniki border crossing with Belarus would be closed for as long as Poczobut remains in a Belarusian prison.

'Strong measures adopted by Poland’

Commenting on the dropping of the charges against Borys by Belarus, exiled Belarusian opposition politician Pavel Latushka told PAP it was "the consequence of strong measures adopted by Poland.”

He added, however, that “it doesn’t affect the general situation of the Polish minority in Belarus,” which he said was “deteriorating.”

Latushka noted that the head of the Belarusian KGB security agency announced earlier on Tuesday that "citizens of Poland and other neighbouring countries have been detained for undercover activities."

At the same time, Latushka said that if “strong pressure” on Lukashenko was maintained, then “at some point” the Belarusian leader may be “forced to release more people from Belarusian prisons.”

“It has been demonstrated many times that Lukashenko relents if he is put under strong pressure,” Latushka told the PAP news agency.

Latushka, who is based in Poland, is a former Belarusian culture minister and ambassador to several European countries.  


Source: PAP, interia.pl, gov.pl