Russia calls for international investigation into Poland’s treatment of refugees at Belarusian border

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Russia called for a “full international investigation” into allegations of abuse committed by Poland against migrants and refugees trying to cross its border from Belarus.

The Russian request comes in response to requests made by a Polish soldier who, earlier this month, fled to Belarus to seek asylum. In interviews with Belarusian and Russian state media, he claimed that Poland had committed massacres of migrants.

There is, however, no evidence to support his claims, which closely match Belarus and Russia’s propaganda account regarding Poland. The soldier fled Poland ahead of an appeal hearing against his conviction for abusing his mother and after being caught driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Prosecutors launch investigation as Polish soldier who fled to Belarus appears on state TV

Monday of this week, the Polish soldier – who can only be named as Emil Cz. under Polish privacy law – was interviewed on a Russian YouTube channel funded by the state-owned RT broadcaster.

He claimed that he and other soldiers were forced to “shoot [migrants] by the dozen ”. Being transformed into participating in the “genocide” had made him unable to “look at himself in the mirror”.

The soldier made similar statements without evidence in a previous interview with Belarusian state television. However, even the organizations and individuals who accused Poland of mistreating migrants did not report deliberate killings or mass deaths.

Emil Cz. also previously claimed that Polish forces killed two humanitarian volunteers near the border. But no volunteers have been reported missing. Polish news site Onet notes that Emil Cz. on the number of border deaths intensified in successive interviews.

According to testimonies from border residents, Belarusian officials – who orchestrated the border crisis – have often treated migrants brutally. In one case, a Syrian drowned at the border after Belarusian guards forced him and a colleague to throw themselves into a river when they could not swim.

In response to Emil Cz. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called yesterday for a “full international investigation”.

“Yes [our] Belarusian colleagues are opening an investigation into the flagrant facts revealed by the military, we will provide them with the required support ”, declared Zakharova, quoted by the Russian state press agency TASS. “We would like our Western partners to show that they are good people and that they behave decently.”

Zakharova also accused Poland of “trying to discredit this man” in order to “distract attention” instead of “providing substantiated answers” to his claims.

UN: Belarus and Poland “violate the rights of refugees and migrants” at the border

After the escape of Emil Cz. in Belarus, the Polish defense ministry noted that it was facing legal problems. In September, he was convicted of physical and psychological abuse of his mother, and earlier this month he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and marijuana, Radio Zet reports.

In the first case, he was awaiting an appeal hearing at the end of December. It took place earlier this week, with Emil Cz. absent. The judge confirmed the guilty verdict against him, as well as the sentence of six months of community service and a year of prohibition to approach his mother.

The accused abused alcohol and started arguing, which took the form of mental and physical abuse of his mother, ”said the judge, as quoted by Polsat News. “The man insulted his mother, humiliated her… hit her several times, put both hands around her neck…[and] threatened to take his life.

This week, Polish prosecutors investigating Emil Cz. for desertion issued an arrest warrant against him. A spokesperson said it is possible that an extradition request will be made to Belarus, TVP Info reports.

Main image credit: Kremlin.ru (under CC BY 4.0)

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