The people coming to support the head of the Polish House in Ivyanets and not to allow the authorities to take away the building were arrested. Electricity to the house was shut off in the evening.
The website charter97.org learnt this from Andrzej Poczobut, a famous journalist, activist of the Union of Poles in Belarus, unrecognized by the authorities. According to him, more than 100 Union from different regions were going to visit Ivyanets (the Minsk region) in the morning January 21. Road traffic police began to stop their cars, check IDs and search vehicles. It was reported about 33 people detained – 9 people in Shchuchyn, 4 near the village of Pershai (the Valozhyn district), 19 kilometres from Ivyantes, 20 – in the town of Valozhyn.
Later, the number of people detained in the Valozhyn militia department reached 43. Militia checked people’s IDs and questioned drivers, but did not explain reasons for the detention. Radio Svaboda journalist Syarhei Astrautsou was detained on his way to Ivyanets as well. He was forbidden to drive in the town and ordered to return to Hrodna.
“Cars were being stopped almost at all traffic police posts. The information about our cars apparently leaked to police, because officers know number plates of activists’ cars,” Andrzej Poczobut said.
At 5 p.m. the journalist told charter97.org that all Union activists were released from the Valozhyn militia department after the Polish consul had intervened.
Militiamen and people in mufti were guarding the Polish House in Ivyanets all day. The local branch of the Union of Poles, supporting the unregistered and unrecognized by the authorities organization led by Andzelika Borys, opened a sitting in Ivyanets at 5 p.m.
The sitting was attended by 154 union members living in Ivyanets and 130 activists from Hrodna and other cities. The participants of the meeting expressed their support to Tereza Sobal, the head of the local branch of the Union of Poles and the Polish House, and said they continued to consider her their head.
The district newspaper of Valozhyn reported that Tereza Sobal had been expelled from the union. The authorities are dissatisfied with the fact that the Ivyantes branch doesn’t obey the pro-governmental Union of Poles led by Stanislau Syamashka. He attended the local Polish House before the sitting, but failed to have a dialogue with activists.
Some people stayed in the Polish House for the night. “We won’t leave the building voluntary. The authorities will have to carry us n arms,” Poczobut said.
Electricity to the house was shut off in the evening. The union activists say it’s a provocation, as all nearby buildings have electricity.
Militia cars continue guarding outside the house.
“This is another escalation, tightening pressure on the Union of Poles. The beginning was two months ago. The newspaper “Sovetskaya Belorussia” published libel against us. It was a signal for tax service, militia and prosecutors to check activists of the Union and question more than 120 Polish language teachers. They were asked about their ties with the Union of Poles, aid from Poland. A criminal case against Tereza Sobal was instigated. The authorities try to make her resign from the post of the Polish House head. There also were conflicts in Barysau, Hrodna, Baranavichy. Now Ivyanets is a flashpoint,” Andrzej Poczobut commented on the situation.
After a criminal case against head of the Polish House in Ivyanets (the Minsk region) Tereza Sobal had been instigated, the authorities called the Ivyaents Union of Poles branch for a meeting and announced elections of a new head of the Polish House.
Teraza Sobal, an activist of the unrecognized by the authorities Union of Poles, is accused of committing a crime allegedly taken place in 2004, when the Polish House in Ivyanets received material aid from head of the Union of Poles Tadeusz Kruczkowski in 2004. Though the limitation period had expired long ago, the criminal case against Tereza Sobal was instigated.
The Union of Poles in Belarus regards the actions by the authorities as a provocation and is going to defend the Polish House in Ivyanets.
We remind that the Union of Poles in Belarus was split by Belarusian authorities a few years ago. The part of the organisation controlled by the authorities is officially recognized. The UPB headed by Andzelika Borys and supported by the government of Poland is repressed in Belarus.
At the same time, Polish authorities many times stated that one of the conditions of normalization of Belarusian-Polish relations is recognition by Belarusian government of the Union of Poles headed by Andzelika Borys.
Photo by - «Radio Svaboda»