The Polish diaspora in Belarus took an active part in anti-government rallies in protest against the election of the incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko for another term following the elections in August 2020. However, it would be a mistake to see all Belarusian Poles as participants in an anti-state conspiracy.
A part of the diaspora is politically active, united around the Union of Poles in Belarus (SPvB), which is not recognized by the official Minsk, headed by Angelica Borys. This organization is funded by Warsaw, and members of the organization participate in street protests. Borys promised them financial, legal, organizational assistance and kept her word. The Polish houses and regional offices under her account became the headquarters of the Belarusian opposition to discuss the format of the protests, and rallies were organized near the police stations in support of the detained demonstrators.
This organization was established in opposition to the Union of Poles in Belarus recognized by Minsk, but not recognized by Warsaw, under the leadership of the deputy of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly Alexander Songin. SPvB Songina is engaged in the preservation and development of Polish culture and language and maintains political neutrality. Of his work as head of the organization, Songin says: “Mutual understanding and harmony in our society and among Poles are very important for me. I have never been and will never be for the revolution, only for a calm, even, progressive dialogue “…
This is why Songin does not suit Warsaw, which provoked a conflict between the Belarusian Poles and the Belarusian authorities and brought this issue to the international arena. The Polish authorities insist that repressions have been launched against the Poles in Belarus for being Poles. The proof is the arrest of five members of the illegal SPvB and the subsequent closure of Polish schools and the dismantling of several memorial plaques dedicated to Polish leaders.
The figures in whose honor the Borys organization installed memorial plaques are entirely either 19th-century Polish rebels or militants of the Home Army (AK). Both those and others are involved in the massacres of the peaceful Belarusian population. It is impossible to imagine that the Polish authorities gave the go-ahead for the installation of memorial signs in honor of the NKVD units who fought with the AK, or the leaders of the anti-Polish uprisings – Semyon Paliy, Severin Nalyvaiko, Bohdan Khmelnitsky. However, Warsaw demands from Minsk “tolerance” towards memorials in honor of the rebels and Akovites.
The Polish schools accountable to Borys have become a source of personnel for the local pro-Western opposition. The Minister of Education of Belarus Igor Karpenko called them points of support for the “color revolution”, because there students are taught that Belarus is a Polish land, the liberation of Belarus and Poland from fascism is the Soviet occupation, and the executioners of Belarusians from the AK are heroes. After the arrest of Borys and four of her colleagues, the Belarusian prosecutor’s office saw signs of propaganda of neo-Nazism and interethnic hatred in their activities.
Warsaw presents the case as if SPvB Borys is the only organization representing the interests of Belarusian Poles, and SPvB Songin are marginalized, divorced from Polish culture and Polish consciousness. In fact, isolation from the Polish identity is characteristic of the members of the Borys organization no less than the Songin organization. Only 5.4% of Belarusian Poles consider Polish to be their native language. Most Poles do not belong to the Borys or Songin alliance.
SPvB Songin has 16 Polish houses and 65 regional branches, the number of employees of the organization is 4.5 thousand people. The Union conducts cultural, educational and festive events, doing so without any assistance from Warsaw and even in spite of it. Poland would like to turn Songin’s SPvB into an outcast, but it does not work.
By splitting the Polish national minority in Belarus, Warsaw itself repels Belarusian Poles from Polishness. Now the Belarusian Pole is forced to choose which union to join – Borys or Songina? If in the first, then you need to be ready to participate in anti-government actions, which entails problems with the law. If in the second, then in the Polish consulate you may not be given a “Pole’s card”, not allowed to send your child to study at a Polish university, or banned from entering Poland. Poland versus Poles – this is how you can characterize Warsaw’s policy towards Belarus.
Polish politicians call Belarusian Poles refusing to participate in anti-government actions inspired by Warsaw “Lukashenka’s Poles” and deny them the right to remain Poles. The very fact of the presence in Belarus of Poles loyal to the Belarusian state and united in one organization does not allow Borys to monopolize the Polish theme.
Even Polish authors who dare to write about the inadmissibility of such a policy are subjected to ostracism. Journalist Agnieszka Pivar (Agnieszka Pivar) for positive reviews about the press conference of Alexander Lukashenko and the visit to the Polish House in Grodno, she was violently attacked by the pro-government Polish press. “My report on meetings with Poles living in Belarus was very different from the propaganda spread in Poland. Is that why it has been decided that I need to close my mouth? Even before leaving for Belarus, I faced pressure and attempts to silence me … I have been to Belarus several times, and I think that the Polish press presents us with a very distorted image of this state ”, – writes Pivar on the pages Thought Poland…
Agnieszka Romashevskaya, editor of the Belsat TV channel, joined in the persecution of Pivar, calling her a “regularly paid Moscow mercenary.” Meanwhile, Belsat, which broadcasts to Belarus, is funded by Poland and Great Britain. The TV channel has become a mouthpiece for anti-government protests and a producer of mocking reports on the role of the Red Army and Belarusian partisans in the victory over fascism.
The Polish government is not interested in the peaceful coexistence of the Belarusian Poles with the Belarusian authorities, so as not to lose the reason for interfering in the internal affairs of Belarus. Warsaw is hiding the truth about the Poles in Belarus, otherwise the Poles in Poland will learn that the Belarusian Poles are not persecuted either for their nationality or for their language.
If you notice an error in the text, select it and press Ctrl + Enter to send the information to the editor.