Poland has moved to close a crossing point on its border with Belarus, Poland’s interior ministry announced Thursday, a day after a Polish journalist was sentenced to eight years in prison by a Minsk court for allegedly being politically motivated.
“Due to the important interests of state security, I have decided to suspend until further notice, from February 10 this year, from 12:00, traffic at the Polish-Belarusian border crossing in Bobroniki,” Interior Minister Mariusz Kaminski said in a statement.
Located in eastern Poland, the Bobroniki (or Bobronikach in Polish) checkpoint is one of six points on the Polish-Belarusian border.
Polish authorities are preparing to expand the list of people linked to the regime of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko who are currently under sanctions from Poland, Kaminski added.
The move comes a day after a court in Minsk sentenced Andrzej Pokzobut, a Polish activist and journalist based in Belarus, to eight years in prison for inciting hatred and publicly calling for actions that threaten national security.
After months of mass protests calling for Lukashenko’s resignation, Pokzobut was arrested in March 2021 as part of a broader crackdown by the Belarusian government against political opponents.
In response to the court ruling, the Polish Foreign Ministry said the charges were “politically motivated” and demonstrated “chronic systematic 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 may be higher. A maximum of 1.1 million.
Relations between Minsk and Warsaw have been strained for years due to the Belarusian government’s discriminatory treatment of the Polish minority.