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Belarus, Poland Expel Diplomats In Rift Over 'Cursed Soldiers' Event


The city of Brest, on Belarus's western border, was part of interwar Poland.

Poland has declared a Belarusian diplomat persona non grata a day after Minsk expelled a Polish consul for taking part in an event honoring Polish forces who fought in World War II.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz announced the decision on March 10, saying on Twitter it was in response to the "hostile and unjustified" actions of the Belarusian authorities toward the Polish consul in the southwestern city of Brest.

Przydacz did not identify the Belarusian diplomat.

Minsk on March 9 announced it was expelling the Polish consul, Jerzy Timofejuk, saying he had taken part in an unofficial event honoring the so-called "cursed soldiers" in Brest on February 28.

The Polish fighters initially fought against Nazi occupation and later turned against Soviet occupiers. But they often acted violently against non-Poles, especially Belarusians.

Belarusian prosecutors said on March 10 they had opened a criminal case into the event for actions aimed at inciting national, religious enmity, and hate based on nationality, religion, language, as well as actions aimed at glorifying Nazism.

The Day of Cursed Soldiers has been commemorated in Poland on March 1 since 2011.

Relations between Belarus and Poland have been strained recently after protests broke out against the disputed reelection in August of Belarusian strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Poland has sheltered Belarusian activists who have fled across the border to escape a crackdown on the opposition.

With reporting by AFP
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