The fresco, which had adorned the wall of a church in the village of Soly, in what is now western Belarus, was painted over on the orders of the Belarusian authorities, Polish state news agency PAP reported on Wednesday.
Polish foreign ministry spokesman Łukasz Jasina told public broadcaster Polish Radio: “Evidently Alexander Lukashenko has given the signal for a crackdown on Polish people in various ways.”
He added: “It’s a physical crackdown on living Poles, such as Andrzej Poczobut or Angelika Borys, who is currently under house arrest, and on Poles who are dead, such as the destruction of many cemeteries, graves of Polish soldiers. These burial places are being desecrated.”
Jasina tweeted on Tuesday: “We condemn the destruction of Polish cultural heritage in Belarus by the Lukashenko regime.”
He added: “This heritage constitutes an integral part of the history of Belarus. Destroying it is unworthy and incompatible with the principles of the civilised world."
Belarus paints over Battle of Warsaw fresco
The news of the destruction of the Battle of Warsaw fresco in the Belarusian church was first reported by the Zerkalo.io website.
In December, Belarusian state TV had criticised the wall painting, with journalist Ksenia Lebedeva saying that it incited “ethnically and religiously motivated hatred.”
The fresco had been painted over before, in the Soviet era. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was renovated and re-consecrated, according to the Katolik.life website.
The fresco was created soon after Poland defeated Soviet troops in the 1920 Battle of Warsaw, the PAP news agency reported.
Poland has been an important refuge for opponents of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, and Warsaw has become one of Kyiv's most steadfast supporters since Belarus' main ally Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year, the Reuters news agency has reported.
Source: IAR, PAP, polskieradio24.pl