News ID: 317971
Published: 0327 GMT November 16, 2021

Russia criticizes Polish use of tear gas on migrants

Russia criticizes Polish use of tear gas on migrants
LEONID SHCHEGLOV/BELTA

Polish serviceman sprays tear gas during clashes between migrants and Polish border guards at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, on Nov. 16, 2021.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday said the use of tear gas and water cannon by Polish forces to stop migrants entering from Belarus was "absolutely unacceptable”.

"The behavior of the Polish side is absolutely unacceptable," he told a press conference in Moscow, citing "tear gas and a water cannon and shots fired above the heads of migrants towards the direction of Belarus", AFP reported.

Lavrov charged that Polish forces “violate all conceivable norms of international humanitarian law and other agreements of the international community”.

Warsaw said Polish forces fired tear gas at stone-throwing migrants trying to cross the border on Tuesday. It added that a Polish police officer was seriously injured in the border clashes.

 

‘Escalating’ migrant crisis

 

Belarusian Foreign Ministry spokesman Anatoly Glaz accused Poland of "escalating" the migrant crisis on the border.

"The goal of the Polish side is completely understandable – it needs to escalate the situation even more, to stifle any progress in resolving the situation," Glaz said in a statement. "We see today from the Polish side direct provocations and inhumane treatment of the disadvantaged."

Thousands of migrants have camped at the Poland-Belarus border in a crisis Brussels says was orchestrated by Minsk possibly with the backing of Moscow.

Minsk and Moscow deny the claims and Russia has stood by its ally in the stand-off.

Polish border guards estimate up to 4,000 migrants are now camped out along its border with Belarus in increasingly dire conditions and freezing temperatures.

Most of the migrants are from the Middle East, with many from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Iraq's Embassy in Moscow said Tuesday that it will fly out around 200 people from Belarus on Thursday.

Baghdad had earlier said it would organize repatriations on a "voluntary" basis.

At least 11 migrants have died on both sides since the influx started in the summer.

The situation marks an escalation in a tense migration and political border crisis where the lives of thousands of migrants are at stake, according to AP.

Poland has taken a tough stand, reinforcing the border with riot police and troops, rolling out coils of razor wire and making plans to build a tall steel fence. The Polish approach has largely met with approval from the West, with other EU countries keen to stop the arrival of another migration wave.

Yet Polish authorities have also been criticized for pushing migrants back across the border and not allowing them to apply for asylum.

There was no way to independently verify what was happening because a state of emergency in Poland is keeping reporters and human rights workers out of the border area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
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