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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 August 2005, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Belarus jails Polish group leader
Union of Poles, Grodno
The former Soviet republic has a large ethnic Polish community
A leader of an ethnic Polish group in Belarus has been jailed for 15 days for illegally meeting a visiting member of the Polish parliament.

It is the second time Veslaw Kewlyak, deputy chairman of the Union of Poles of Belarus, has been arrested by the Belarussian authorities.

The head of the union, Angelica Boris, attacked the conviction and said Kewlyak had done nothing wrong.

Tension has been high between Belarus and neighbouring Poland.

Polish MP Donald Tusk on Monday visited Belarus to show support for the Polish minority and he addressed a crowd of around 100 people at a rally in Grodno.

Escalating

The two countries have expelled each other's diplomats and gathered support from political allies.

Poland has the support of much of the West in its desire to see political change in Belarus while Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko looks to Russia as an ally against outside interference.

Mr Lukashenko has accused the Polish government of stirring up unrest within Belarus' Polish community in an effort to unseat him.

He has been in power since 1994.

About 400,000 ethnic Poles live in Belarus, in areas that were part of Poland until World War II.




SEE ALSO:
Belarus expels Polish diplomat
26 Jul 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Belarus
22 Jun 05 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Belarus
22 Jun 05 |  Country profiles


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