The news website “znadniemna.pl” run by the Union of Poles in Belarus (ZPB) has been classified as extremist and put on a government watchlist, the website announced on Wednesday adding that the decision was made by the court in Grodno made on December 30 with immediate effect.
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According to the website the move was a strike against the ZPB, is officially unrecognised by the Belarusian authorities, and supporters of its currently imprisoned leaders Andżelika Borys and Andrzej Poczobut.
Last March, Andżelika Borys, Andrzej Poczobut and other high-ranking ZPB members were charged with sowing hatred and are in prison awaiting trial. If convicted, they could face up to 12 years in prison.
“This decision is meant to intimidate the Polish community in Belarus, especially those who sympathise with the wrongfully imprisoned leaders of the Union of Poles in Belarus,” znadniemna.pl wrote.
The website also pointed out that “currently, all our readers in Belarus, that can be proven by the authorities that they read our website, share our publications on social networks, or identify themselves with the content published on the website in a different way, face administrative liability in Belarus. Without wishing that any of you suffer for the fact that you read our content, we advise you to remove all traces of this from your phones, computers and other electronic devices and information carriers.”
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Concluding its statement znadniemna.pl wrote that “we will certainly find other opportunities to reach you with uncensored texts about the condition of the Polish national minority in Belarus and the situation of our unjustly imprisoned heroes!”
Belarusian authorities have long oppressed the Polish minority in Belarus. However, since the last fraudulent presidential elections and the protests which ensued after, these oppressions have become more and more intense.
In the last two years many Polish nationals and people working for Polish media, have been detained and imprisoned. Some of them from the Belsat television channel, which is a subsidiary of Poland’s public broadcaster Telewizja Polska S.A., some from the znadniemna.pl website or the ZPB.
Poland on the other hand grants refuge for people fleeing from the Belarusian regime, including journalists, politicians, athletes and thousands of Belarusians escaping a political crackdown by Alyaksandr Lukashenka.