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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

 

Leaders of Belarus Poles arrested

From Leading the Charge (Australia):

Belarusian police arrested two leaders of an ethnic Polish cultural group on Tuesday after seizing the group‘s headquarters, raising already heightened tensions between the neighboring countries.

Poland‘s Foreign Ministry declined comment on the arrests. Last week, it recalled its ambassador from the capital, Minsk, in protest of what it called heavy-handed tactics against the Polish community.

The former president of the cultural organization, Tadeusz Gawin, was sentenced to 15 days in jail for publishing a manifesto against government attempts to wrest control of the organization.

The Belarusian ambassador in Warsaw said he had been urged by his government to ease the friction that has been worsening over the last weeks.

Authorities in Minsk are worried about the ethnic Polish minority of about 500,000 — or 5 percent of the population — concentrated in Western Belarus. Lukashenko has accused them of trying to foment revolution ahead of elections next year.

Casey said that in the past two months, Belarus has closed 80 percent of the local offices of three major parties, jailed activists, and levied massive fines against the few remaining independent newspapers.

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