Polish ammo in Belarus? Producer denies, experts suspect provocation

Fam-Pionki, a private arms producer denies selling its products to countries covered by an embargo, including Belarus, after a shotgun shell stamped with “made in Poland” was found at a subway station in Minsk, the capital of the country.

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Polish journalist Sławomir Sierakowski, the editor-in-chief of “Krytyka Polityczna” editorship, who is currently in Minsk, posted on Facebook several photographs on Tuesday, including one with a Polish shell. Arms deliveries to Belarus have been embargoed since 2011.

“...I found several types, some of which say “Made in Poland” – these are ONS-2000 blank rounds produced by the Polish company FAM-Pionki. I do not know how it is possible that a dictator who has ruled brutally for 26 years, leading a regime on which we impose sanctions, is firing on his own people using ammunition from Poland. Both Belarusians and foreign journalists were hit with projectiles manufactured in our country...,” he wrote.

“Rzeczpospolita” daily wrote that the kind of ammunition in the photo is used in smooth-bore weapons, used by police. “It produces smoke and a bang, it is used to deal with riots,” the newspaper wrote.

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“Nobody told me about it when I was there nor showed me such a shell. It is difficult to discuss it, we have to be careful, it might be a provocation,” said Michał Szczerba, a Polish MP from the opposition Civic Platform, who just returned from Belarus.

Małgorzata Niedzielska, the head of the Fam-Pionki factory in Pionki, central Poland, confirmed, based on the photograph, that it “most likely” was a shell produced in the factory, but was unable to tell when it was manufactured.

“We have never conducted any illegal cooperation with entities unauthorised to do transactions,” she stressed. The Polish Defence Ministry also denied that it had ever sold weapons or ammunition to Belarus.

According to experts, quoted by “Rzeczpospolita”, it is possible that this was a form of provocation. “This is a special kind of ammunition, one cannot buy it in a shop... I suspect that somebody picked up shells at a shooting range and then threw them around in Minsk subway,” Jacek Pieńczak, an arms sector specialist said.

“I know the policy of Belarusian secret services, and I would not rule out such a scenario. It smells like a provocation,” a former Internal Security Agency officer added anonymously.

Law enforcement agencies in Belarus are brutally pacifying protests that erupted there, after the announcement of the results of the presidential elections. Many citizens of the country did not believe that the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko won and accuse him of rigging the outcome.