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Ethnic Polish Organization In Belarus Holds Congress

Andzelika Borys (right) was reelected ZPB leader.
Andzelika Borys (right) was reelected ZPB leader.
HRODNA, Belarus -- The Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB) held its seventh congress in the Belarusian city of Hrodna on March 15, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Belarusian authorities do not officially recognize the organization, and local authorities did not officially sanction the congress.

Belarusian opposition leaders and Polish politicians joined 165 delegates at the congress, where Andzelika Borys was reelected as ZPB leader.

One of the organization's members, journalist Andrzej Poczobut, told RFE/RL that the ZPB held the congress in order to send a message to Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka that he could get help to normalize relations between state boards and the ZPB.

Poczobut said the current tension between the state and the ZPB -- which has carried over from the last ZPB congress in 2005 -- is harmful.

The controversy over the 2005 congress led to a diplomatic row between Minsk and Warsaw and to reciprocal diplomatic expulsions.

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