Poland suspends freight traffic on border with Belarus

Artur Reszko/PAP

Poland has closed its border with Belarus to Belarusian and Russian freight vehicles until further notice, owing to the Belarusian Supreme Court upholding an eight-year prison sentence handed down to a Belarusian-Polish activist.

A decree authorising the closure, signed by Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski, was published in the Journal of Laws on Monday.

On May 26, the Supreme Court in Minsk rejected an appeal by Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist and Polish minority leader, against his sentence.

Poczobut was found guilty in February of "intentional actions aimed at inciting hostility and hatred on national, religious and social grounds" in a trial widely regarded as fraudulent.

Poczobut's conviction has darkened Warsaw's relationship with Minsk and led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between the two countries, and the imposition of border restrictions.

A day after Poczobut's sentence was announced, Poland closed the vital Bobrowniki crossing with Belarus and followed up with further transport restrictions, saying they would be lifted if Poczobut was released.

Currently, one freight road crossing is open on the Polish-Belarusian border in Kukuryki-Kozlowicze. From February 21, it is only available to vehicles registered in the European Union member states, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.