President calls on Belarus to stop repressions and Russia to free Navalny

Poland’s president has used an address to the UN Human Rights Council to call on Belarus to stop political repression, and for Moscow to free the jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

"As a head of a state located in Central Europe, I want to draw your attention to the situation in countries that border my country Poland: Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine," said President Andrzej Duda during his address at the 46th session of council.

He said that following presidential elections last August, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to exercise their basic democratic rights.

"The scale of repression by the Belarusian regime that followed was more than alarming, and the international community cannot remain silent," he said.

"I call on the Belarusian authorities to move away from the policy of oppression to a policy of dialogue," Duda added.

The president noted that Belarus was not the only country in the region whose authorities were subjecting their own societies to political repression.

"I call upon the Russian authorities to fulfill their international obligations and therefore release Alexei Navalny and his detained supporters," Duda said.

"This has been clearly presented by the Russian Federation in the mass detentions of peaceful protesters, who had gathered to express their support for Alexei Navalny and his colleagues,"

Duda said, adding that, in many cases, both their names and fates were unknown, but, that, judging from experience, their fates may end in tragedy.

Duda also stressed the tragic situation of human rights in the territories of Ukraine annexed by Russia or those under the control of Russia-backed separatists.

"Poland clearly reconfirms its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine within the internationally recognised borders," he declared.

The president stated that it was “naive” to believe that it was enough to restore a “business-as-usual” approach to Russia, and expect that this would influence Moscow's behaviour.