The Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommended that Polish consul in Brest Jerzy Timofiejuk leave the country following his participation in an unofficial event commemorating an event in Belarus for Polish resistance groups who fought by Soviet authorities.
Some elements of these anti-communist fighters, known as the “Cursed Soldiers”, have also been accused of atrocities in Belarus towards the end of World War II. As a result, the Belarusian ministry summoned the charge d’affaires of the Polish embassy in Minsk, Marcin Wojciechowski, to inform him of their protest over Timofiejuk’s participation in an event for the Cursed Soldiers. Representatives of Polish non-government and youth organizations also took part in the event, according to Polish news outlet Dziennik.
“Poland will immediately and appropriately, using the rule of reciprocity, respond to Belarus’s unjustified decision to declare Polish consul Jerzy Timofiejuk a persona non-grata,” stated Deputy Foreign Minister Marcin Przydacz.
According to the Polish Press Agency (PAP), the event is an annual one prepared by the organization of Poles in Brest.
“Through his participation in the event, the Polish representative seriously breached international law norms and the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations in particular,” the Belarusian ministry said in an official statement. The foreign ministry declared that Belarus has never questioned the ability of diplomats to cooperate with their own minorities but that “inciting racial, national, religious, or any other social animosity in our country is a punishable offense.”
Belarus added that the position of Belarusian authorities on the matter of the Cursed Soldiers remains unchanged.
“The memorializing of war criminals, the cynical justification of genocide of the Belarusian nation and the serious breach of the Polish side’s responsibilities to not permit the commemoration of Nazism are unacceptable,” the ministry wrote, thus equating the Cursed Soldiers with Nazism. Moreover, the statement further declared that the Cursed Soldiers, through their actions in areas densely populated by the Belarusian national minority “put themselves in the same category as Nazi death squads”.
Both Belarus and Poland have seen their share of diplomatic strife in the last year, with Poland calling for Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down and for fair democratic elections to take place. The Belarusian government claimed that protests in the country against Lukashenko were being orchestrated from Czechia, Poland and other EU countries.
The Cursed Soldiers continuously fought the Soviet occupation of Poland following the defeat of Nazi Germany and continued their underground struggle well into the 1950s. They were viciously persecuted by communist authorities, often resulting in mass executions.
Since 2010, Poland has officially been celebrating the Cursed Soldiers National Remembrance Day on March 1.