Poland moved to shut down a crossing point on its border with Belarus, the Polish interior ministry announced Thursday, one day after a Polish journalist was sentenced to eight years in jail by a Minsk court on charges that Poland says are politically motivated.
“Due to the important interest of state security, I decided to suspend until further notice, from February 10 this year, from 12:00, traffic at the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Bobrowniki,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński said in a statement.
Located in eastern Poland, the Bobrowniki (or Bobrownikach in Polish) checkpoint is one of six points of passage on the Polish-Belarusian border.
The Polish authorities are also preparing to expand the list of people connected to the regime of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko who are currently under sanctions from Poland, Kamiński added.
The move comes a day after a Polish activist and journalist based in Belarus, Andrzej Poczobut, was given an eight-year jail sentence by a Minsk court for allegedly inciting hatred and publicly calling for actions threatening national security.
Poczobut had been arrested in March 2021 as part of a wider crackdown by the Belarusian regime against political opponents, following months of mass protests calling for Lukashenko’s resignation.
In reaction to the court verdict, the Polish foreign ministry said the charges were “politically motivated,” and demonstrated “the long-standing systemic discrimination against the Polish national minority in Belarus.”
According to 2019 data from the latest Belarusian national census, about 300,000 ethnic Poles live in the country — although the Polish government claims the actual number could be as high as 1.1 million.
Relations between Minsk and Warsaw have been strained for years over the Belarusian regime’s discriminatory treatment of Polish minorities.