Polish Belarusians: chief editor of Niva newspaper Jauhen Vapa and professor of Bialystok University Jauhen Miranovicz face up to 8 years of prison
A big scandal is just about to flare up in Bialystok, Poland. Bialystok prosecutor brought charges against editorial board members of Niva, a weekly for Belarusians of Poland. The accused Jauhen Vapa, Jauhen Miranovicz, Michas Andrasiuk, Jury Chmielewski, and Michal Stelmaszuk are prominent public figures not only in Poland, but also abroad. They all plead not guilty of alleged misuse of financial means granted by the Polish government for support of the newspaper. Moreover, they all state that the charges are a well-planned provocation by ill-wishers who intend to exclude Belarusian minority from the public and political life of Poland.
Dozens of organizations from all over the world have expressed their support to their friends from Bialystok. In particular, Belarusian Language Society, Belarusian Popular Front, and Forum of Belarusians of Europe have expressed their position. Besides that, in Belarus people collect signatures under the demand that such harsh treatment of Belarusian intellectuals of Poland should not be tolerated.
Meanwhile, the crime the leaders of the Belarusian movement are charged with provides for punishment of 5 to 8 years of imprisonment. Their fingerprints, as well as full-face and half-face photos will be kept in criminal police files.