Activists of Polish minority in Belarus cannot be held hostage - dep FM

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, Marcin Przydacz said the decision was “totally unacceptable" and "raises objections from the Polish authorities". Marcin Obara/PAP

Poland’s deputy foreign minister has described as “totally unacceptable” a decision by the Belarusian authorities to prolong the detention of a leading member of Belarus’s Polish community for another three months.

The further detention of Andrzej Poczobut could add to tensions between Belarus and Poland already under strain from a myriad of problems including the arrest and detention of a number of leaders of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB).

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, Marcin Przydacz said the decision was “totally unacceptable" and "raises objections from the Polish authorities".

"From the very beginning, we have emphasised that Polish activists in Belarus cannot be held hostage, they must not be repressed regardless of the current attitude of the authorities in Minsk," he said.

Andrzej Poczobut, a senior member of the ZPB, has been charged, along with four other representatives of the Polish minority in Belarus, with "deliberate actions aimed at inciting racial, national, religious or other social hostility" and "rehabilitating Nazism" due to their commemoration of Polish WWII underground fighters.

He and the head of the ZPB, Andżelika Borys, have been held in custody since March.

Three other Polish minority leaders, Irena Biernacka, Anna Paniszewa and Maria Tiszkowska, have been released due to Polish diplomatic efforts.

Przydacz added that the Polish government will continue its efforts aimed at exerting "appropriate pressure" on the Belarusian authorities to cease repression against Poles and hundreds of other people in Belarusian prisons.

He also said that further repressions against representatives of civil society and the independent media show "the true face of Alexander Lukashenko regime."