Warsaw-Minsk tension: Expelling consuls, arrest of Polish School director in Brest

Hanna Panishava. Photo: Radio Svaboda

On March 12, Hanna Panishava, the director of the Brest-based organisation Polish School, was detained on her way to Belarus from Poland.

The woman was going by bus; she was to arrive in Brest at 13.20. Her phone number is now unavailable. At the same time, a video featuring handcuffed Panishava has appeared on Belarusian TV and Radio Company’s official Telegram channel today.

On March 11, Alyaksandr N., one of the co-founders of Polish School, was arrested as part of the criminal case launched over the celebration of Cursed Soldiers’ Day by Polish organisations in Brest in late February. This year’s commemoration also resulted in the Belarusian Foreign Ministry’s expelling Jerzy Timofiejuk, a Polish consul in Brest, who showed up at the event. A bit later, Minsk also demanded the removal of Jarosław Książek, a Polish consul in Hrodna. The expulsion prompted retaliatory diplomatic steps – two Belarusian consuls were asked to leave Poland.

On February 28, a group of persons ‘committed deliberate actions aimed at justifying Nazism and inciting national hatred’, the Belarusian side claims.

“In cooperation with officers of the 6th department (Brest region) of Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption, the Investigators searched the office of the organisation and its employees’ places of residence. They seized office equipment, charter documents and other materials, including posters and literature about Romuald Rajs‘ activity,” the Belarusian Investigative Committee reports.

On Thursday, Hanna Panishava posted an appeal to the public regarding the criminal case. According to her, the authoritities are fabricating the charges, aiming at the liquidation of the school.

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