Four Polish citizens detained in Belarus released from captivity

Four Polish citizens who were detained during the post-election protests in Minsk were freed on Thursday, Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz tweeted.

On Wednesday, the Polish Embassy in Belarus confirmed that three Polish citizens were being held but on Thursday, corrected the figure to four. The Polish Press Agency (PAP) was informed by a diplomatic source that two of them had been fined for taking part in an illegal gathering and would be released from captivity later in the day.

"Two men sought by us, Polish citizens, were sentenced in an administrative process to fines amounting to BYN 600 (about EUR 205) and BYN 800 (EUR 273)," PAP was told by a consular source, who had been trying to free two Polish citizens since Tuesday.

One of the men went to Belarus to visit his girlfriend, the other is a freelance photographer.

Polish Radio established that two other Poles were held in custody in the city of Zhodino near Minsk. According to Belarusian law, as 72 hours had passed since their arrest, they were released from custody without trial. Unofficial sources say that such a situation results from the fact that there are currently too many detainees in the Belarusian prisons.

“The detention process was quite brutal, as we were immediately taken to the prison van, where we were forced to kneel. Then, we took the first beating and later we were transported to the local police station”, said Kacper, one of the released detainees. According to him, it was the beginning of a several-hours-long process of psychological tortures which ended when the prisoners were taken to the prison in Zhodino, with 19 people squeezed into a cell with eight beds.

All four Polish citizens have been taken care of by the Polish Embassy in Minsk and other diplomats.

PM announces Solidarity with Belarus plan

In his interview with Polska The Times daily, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki drew attention to the need of support for the Belarusian nation.

“We are preparing the so-called Solidarity with Belarus plan. It is a wide package of activities including not only aid for those Belarusians who were politically repressed but also intensive diplomatic action in the European Union”, the PM said.

He also expressed hope that EU leaders would “reflect on the actual problems instead of idle disputes over the rule of law in Europe”.

Thousands of people in Belarus took to the streets to protest against the allegedly rigged elections. The incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko triumphed in the August 9 presidential elections, winning more than 80 percent of the votes, which according to independent observers was neither free nor democratic.

The main opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has left the country after pressure from the authorities and is now in political exile in Lithuania.

In total, according to official data, more than 7,000 people have now been detained in connection with the protests throughout the country, some have already been released.