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Belarusian Border Guards Detain Ethnic Polish Leaders

  • RFE/RL's Belarus Service

Two leaders of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), which is unrecognized by Belarusian authorities, have been detained by Belarusian border guards during a trip to Poland.

ZPB Chairman Meczislaw Jaskiewicz and ZPB Council Chairwoman Andzelika Borys were stopped by the guards as they drove to the Bruzgi border checkpoint on September 29.

ZPB spokesman Andrzej Pisalnik told RFE/RL the border guards took several personal items from Jaskiewicz and Borys, including notebooks.

In 2005, Belarusian authorities deregistered the ZPB -- a nonpolitical organization set up to promote Polish culture and language -- and established a Minsk-controlled organization called the Union of Belarusian Poles.

The Polish government recognizes the ZPB as the only legal representative of ethnic Poles in Belarus.

About 4 percent of Belarus's 9.7 million people are ethnic Poles.