Polish, Belarusian FMs discuss need to release political prisoners

Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz spoke on Friday with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makei and drew attention to, among other issues, the need to release political prisoners. He also stated support for independence, reported the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry announced details about the telephone conversation between Jacek Czaputowicz and Vladimir Makei on Twitter. "The minister listened to information about the situation in Belarus and drew attention to the need to release political prisoners".

Mr Czaputowicz also “expressed support for independence and its development, which is a condition for authentic dialogue between the authorities and society," he stated.

Also on Friday, the head of the Parliamentary Team for Belarusian Affairs Robert Tyszkiewicz from the opposition Civic Coalition party accused the government of "shameful silence" and "total passivity" on the European forum regarding the situation in Belarus.

He called on Minister Czaputowicz to speak on the subject of Belarus at the Sejm session scheduled for August 7.

According to him, "a joint Sejm resolution in defence of civil society in Belarus, which will clearly show the authorities in Minsk what the political consequences might be of using force and repression against civilians during the electoral campaign" is necessary.

Elections in Belarus around the corner

The presidential elections will be held in Belarus on August 9. The incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko, as well as four other candidates are registered to participate in them: Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Siarhei Cherachen, Hanna Kanapatskaya and Andrey Dmitriev.

The present election campaign in Belarus is distinguished by a very high level of citizen activity, which was already visible at the stage of collecting signatures, when people lined up in long queues to support potential candidates. According to experts, this shows the great need for changes and a weariness with Alexander Lukashenko's government. The representatives of the Belarusian opposition are worried about being repressed by the authorities.

During the election campaign, several criminal cases were initiated for, among other acts, riots and attacks on policemen. One of the would-be candidates, Viktar Babaryka, is in custody on charges of wide-scale fraud. Also in custody is Siarhei Tsikhanouski, a popular video blogger, who is the husband of candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Authorities claim that he participated in the organisation of collective protests which violated public order.