Poland to host conference to aid Belarusian opposition

Vienna - The Polish government is planning an international conference in February to find ways of aiding and funding Belarus' political opposition, according to an invitation seen on Friday by the German Press Agency dpa.

The move comes in the wake of a crackdown on the opposition and their supporters after the disputed December presidential poll in which President Aleksander Lukashenko won re-election to a fourth term in office.

In an effort to prevent 'further undemocratic behaviour' by Belarusian authorities, Poland plans to 'significantly increase its aid in support of democracy in Belarus' and start waiving visa fees for ordinary Belarusian citizens, the invitation says.

'Opposition leaders and their supporters, journalists and ordinary people who continue to suffer are in urgent need of assistance,' the invitation says.

'Though we have already demonstrated our solidarity, the current situation, which is in many ways unprecedented, requires further action.' Invitations to the conference will be extended to government and civil society representatives and human rights activists.

The event, billed as a 'Solidarity with Belarus' donors' conference, is to take place on February 2 in Warsaw, the Polish capital.

It is expected to be 'an opportunity to discuss the different forms of support that can be afforded Belarus by the international community, individual donor countries and civil society organisations.'


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