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Exiled Belarusians protest at closure of Polish land border

Exiled Belarusians protest at closure of Polish land border
Copyright AFP
Copyright AFP
By Richard Good with AFP
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Officially the reason for the closure since December is COVID-19 - but many suspect Lukashenko of using the pandemic as a pretext for clamping down on the protest movement against his rule.

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On the border between Poland and Belarus, opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko waved the red and white flag of the opposition movement - to protest at the closure of the crossing to all but goods traffic.

Officially the reason for the closure since December is COVID-19 but many suspect Lukashenko of using the pandemic as a pretext for clamping down on the protest movement against his rule.

In normal times Poland issues some 400,000 visas each year to Belarusians.

"It's Lukashenko who closed the land border,” said protester Lena Zhivoglod. “It's difficult for Belarusians to leave their country. For those being oppressed by the regime, it's a big problem."

With air travel suspended, the land route is the only one left.

"A lot of people would like to leave,” says expatriate Ruslan Kulevich. “Because everyone is tired of living in fear. We're waiting, we're waiting. Maybe this will somehow help open the border."

Some demonstrators say they may attempt to block Belarusian goods vehicles coming in, to highlight their call for stricter European Union sanctions on Minsk.

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