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The Union of Poles in Belarus headquarters is at the center of the row 29 July 2005 -- A senior Polish official is calling on Russia to push for democratic change in Belarus.

Amid a worsening diplomatic row between Minsk and Warsaw, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Truszczynski told private Polish radio today that a free and democratic Belarus would be a much stronger ally for Russia than it is now.

Polish-Belarus relations have soured following a series of tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions and the brief detention two days ago of the leader of the Union of Poles in Belarus.

Poland yesterday recalled its ambassador from Minsk.

Earlier today, Ukraine's foreign ministry expressed "concern" over deteriorating relations between its neighbors.

News agencies say Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is cracking down on groups with links abroad for fear they could foment political change within the country.

(Reuters/AP)
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