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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 February 2006, 16:29 GMT
Poland backs Belarus broadcasts
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko
Alexander Lukashenko is accused of authoritarianism
Poland has given backing to a radio station set up to broadcast to eastern neighbour Belarus in a bid to promote democracy and freedom of speech there.

The Polish government is funding the project just weeks before forthcoming presidential elections in Belarus.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has been in power for more than a decade. Opposition activists say he has become increasingly authoritarian.

Belarus's ambassador in Warsaw says Poland is violating international law.

He predicts the radio station will have relatively few listeners.

Radio Racja, which translates roughly as Radio Right, will begin its first broadcasts on crackly medium wave on Wednesday evening.

Solidarity links

It is based in the north-eastern city of Bialystok, about one hour away from the Belarusian border.

Its small team of Belarusian and Polish organisers say it will transmit music and uncensored information into the central and eastern parts of Belarus.

They say it will give the country's opposition a chance to be heard, ahead of the presidential elections next month.

Radio Racja stopped broadcasting four years ago due to a lack of money. The Polish government is funding its relaunch.

The station has its roots in the Solidarity movement which overthrew communism in Poland, so it is no stranger to state censorship.

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