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    Poland Closes Border with Belarus, Straining Relations Over Activist’s Imprisonment

    In a significant development, Poland has taken the decision to close its border with Belarus to freight vehicles from Belarus and Russia until further notice. The move comes in response to the Belarusian Supreme Court’s confirmation of an eight-year prison sentence for Andrzej Poczobut, a prominent Belarusian-Polish activist.

    Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski signed a decree authorizing the closure, which was officially published in the Journal of Laws on Monday. The decision highlights Poland’s strong stance on the issue and its deep concern over Poczobut’s situation.

    Andrzej Poczobut, who is a journalist and leader of the Polish minority, had appealed against his sentence on May 26 at the Supreme Court in Minsk. Unfortunately, his appeal was rejected, further exacerbating the tense situation.

    Poczobut’s trial, held in February, was widely criticized for its lack of fairness and transparency, leading many to consider it fraudulent. He was found guilty of “intentional actions aimed at inciting hostility and hatred on national, religious, and social grounds.” The conviction has not only sparked outrage but also strained the diplomatic ties between Warsaw and Minsk.

    The fallout from Poczobut’s imprisonment has resulted in a series of diplomatic expulsions between Poland and Belarus. In response, Poland took the decision to close the crucial Bobrowniki border crossing immediately after the announcement of Poczobut’s sentence. Furthermore, Poland imposed additional transport restrictions, making it clear that these measures would only be lifted upon Poczobut’s release.

    Currently, only one freight road crossing remains open on the Polish-Belarusian border, specifically the Kukuryki-Kozlowicze crossing. However, access to this crossing has been limited since February 21, with entry restricted to vehicles registered in European Union member states, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein.

    The closure of the border with Belarus marks a significant escalation in the ongoing tensions between Poland and Belarus. The fate of Andrzej Poczobut continues to cast a shadow over the bilateral relationship, as both countries grapple with the repercussions of his imprisonment. The situation remains fluid, and the future of the border restrictions will likely depend on further developments in this case and any potential diplomatic breakthroughs.

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