×
Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Poland Briefly Detains Belarussian Dissident

WARSAW — Poland briefly detained and then freed a Belarussian dissident, avoiding a repeat of an embarrassing incident earlier this year when Polish prosecutors unwittingly contributed to the detention of another activist.

Polish prosecutors ordered the detention of Ales Mihalevich at a Warsaw airport on the basis of an Interpol warrant for his arrest lodged by Belarussian authorities, but the foreign ministry intervened to secure his release.

Minsk accuses Mihalevich, a former presidential candidate, of fomenting mass disturbances after last December's disputed election in which President Alexander Lukashenko won another term in power.

"I have received information that the prosecutor's office decided to free Mr. Mihalevich," Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told reporters Monday, adding that one of his deputies had intervened on the Belarussian's behalf.

Ironically, Sikorski made his remarks while handing an award to the wife of leading human rights activist Ales Belyatsky, whose arrest and subsequent imprisonment on tax evasion charges came after Polish prosecutors unwittingly disclosed the details of a bank account he had in Poland.

The bank account was used to finance the activities of his group Vesna-96, which supports Belarus's opposition.

Poland, which has offered moral and financial help to opponents of Belarus' authoritarian leader Lukashenko, apologized for what it called a "reprehensible mistake," and two prosecutors involved lost their jobs.

Warsaw, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, has long championed democracy and human rights in former Soviet neighbors such as Belarus.

Mihalevich, who is based in the Czech Republic, was traveling to London when he was detained on Monday, Polish media reported.

Two other candidates who ran against Lukashenko in last year's election remain in jail, though other opponents have been released.

The EU and the United States have imposed economic sanctions on Belarus and travel bans on its top officials following Lukashenko's crackdown on the opposition.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more