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The Polish Interior Minister declared that the Polish-Belarusian border crossing at Bobrowniki in the northeast of Poland will stay closed as long as Andrzej Poczobut, a Belarusian-Polish journalist and minority activist, remains in prison.
On February 10, Poland abruptly closed the Bobrowniki border crossing to Belarus, just two days after the conviction of Poczobut. The Belarusian court in Grodno had sentenced the man to a staggering eight-year prison term.
In March 2021, the Belarusian authorities arrested an active member of the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB), Poczobut, on charges of “instigating hatred against religious and national groups, and rehabilitating Nazism.” This is the latest attack on the ZPB, a Polish minority organisation that has been delegalised by the Belarusian government. Poczobut’s detention is a chilling reminder of the government’s intolerance towards minority groups.
The Bobrowniki border crossing will remain closed as long as Andrzej Poczobut is imprisoned,” Mariusz Kamiński said.
“The Belarusian side is fully aware of this fact. If Andrzej Poczobut is released tomorrow, the border crossing in Bobrowniki will be opened the day after tomorrow,” he added.
Kamiński made it clear that Poland will not stand idly by if repressions continue in Belarus. He declared, “Poland will take a tough line with the regime if there are further steps against the Polish state, against Polish citizens and against our compatriots who are Belarusian citizens.” It is evident that Poland will not accept any injustice and will take action if necessary.
Thousands of illegal migrants from Belarus sought refuge in Poland during the 2021 migration crisis, and the Bobrowniki crossing was one of the main points of transit between the two countries. This critical juncture quickly became a bustling hotspot for those seeking a new home.
In response to the Sejm’s resolution, Minister Kamiński has taken action and added those connected to the Lukashenko regime to the sanctions list. This follows the conviction and jailing of Andrzej Poczobut, a journalist and outspoken critic of the Belarusian government. Kamiński’s move is a strong statement against the continued violation of human rights in Belarus.
The sanctions list includes names of people who support both Russia’s war on Ukraine and the violation of human rights in Russia and Belarus. It was first published last April.