Polish PM condemns use of "child hostages" in Belarus

Radek Pietruszka/Mateusz Morawiecki/Twitter

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki expressed indignation on Twitter on Saturday at the news that Belarusian authorities had taken a child away from pro-democracy activists and put him in care.

"I’m shocked and appalled by the news of Belarusian govt. using children as political hostages again," Morawiecki wrote in English. "This barbarity must stop. I urge the Belarusian authorities to hand over 6-years-old Artyom to his parents, Elena Lazarchik and Sergei Matskoyt, Belarusian democratic activists!"

Belsat television and Radio Svoboda reported that the son of pro-democracy activists Elena Lazarchik and Sergei Matskoyt has been in a care home since September 17. Elena Lazarchik told Radio Svoboda that she was detained on September 17 for a document check. The Militia (Belarus police) took away Lazarchik's telephone and kept her at the police station until the evening. When she was unable to collect her child from school by 6pm, the teachers called social services and six-year-old Artyom was taken to a care centre in Minsk.

Belsat television reported that on Friday that social service officials had gone to Lazarchik's home to check on the conditions the family lived in. The parents were not allowed to see their child until Friday evening and Lazarchik told media that on Saturday she had to go again to the care centre over the matter of her son.