Belarusian opposition council member arrives in Poland for conference

Latushko is a former culture minister, diplomat and head of the main state drama theatre, dismissed from this position for supporting the anti-government protests. Tatyana Zenkovich/PAP/EPA

A member of Belarus's opposition council Pavel Latushko said on Wednesday he had left for Poland to take part in the Economic Forum in Krynica, southern Poland, but that he had not emigrated, Belarusian media have reported.

The 30th Economic Forum, traditionally held in Krynica, has been moved to the south-Polish mountain resort of Karpacz. It is planned for September 8-10.

"I have taken part in this important event more than once as the Belarusian ambassador to Poland. Traditionally, its participants include heads of governments and large enterprises as well as experts. I am planning several meetings - including in the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and with other government officials, as well as with representatives of the Belarusian diaspora in Poland, Latushko told TUT.by portal.

He added that he would go from Poland to Lithuania, where he is due to meet diplomats, parliamentarians and MEPs and following these meetings he intends to return to Belarus.

Head of the Polish PM's Office Michal Dworczyk, after meeting with Latushko on Wednesday evening, said that every victim of political violence can count on Poland's help.

"Belarus should be a free and sovereign country. Every victim of political violence can count on our help," Dworczyk wrote on Twitter.

Earlier, Belarus’ pro-government Telegram news service reported that "Pavel Latushko was literally taken abroad in the trunk of the Polish ambassador's car." Latushko called the report "an absolute lie".

Following the reports by some official Belarusian media of the alleged illegal actions taken by the Polish Embassy in Minsk to enable Pavel Latushko to cross the Belarusian-Polish border, Poland's Foreign Ministry said in a Wednesday afternoon statement that "no such actions took place."

"Latushko came to Poland at the invitation of the organisers of the Economic Forum in Krynica. He crossed the Belarusian-Polish border legally," stressed the ministry.

"We find all insinuations about the allegedly illegal actions of the Polish diplomatic mission in this regard to be incomprehensible and pointless. It is an attempt to shift responsibility onto Poland for the Belarusian authorities' inability to enter into dialogue with their own society. Poland has consistently held that such dialogue is the only way to ensure the stable development of an independent, sovereign, democratic and prosperous Belarus," the Polish Foreign Ministry added.

Latushko is a former culture minister, diplomat and head of the main state drama theatre, dismissed from this position for supporting the anti-government protests.

He is also a member of the presidium of the Coordination Council, established on the initiative of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the opposition candidate in the August 9 presidential election in Belarus.