Riot police break up protest of drivers at Belarusian-Polish border

Belarus’ riot police violently broke up a protest staged by drivers at the Bruzhi point at the Belarusian-Polish border on Sunday evening against newly introduced restrictions on motor fuel exports by individuals.

Witnesses say that more than 100 drivers blocked the border-crossing point at around 6:00 p.m., demanding that Syamyon Shapira, chairman of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee, arrive at the scene for negotiations. Mr. Shapira appeared at the border-crossing point some 30 minutes after the protest began to urge the protesters to disperse.

Officers of a special-task police unit were called. The protesters stood defiant, and clashes broke out.

Reports have it that the police handled the protest violently, using tear gas against drivers. Some protesters were reportedly arrested and spent the night in custody in Hrodna awaiting trial.

On June 11, the Belarusian government imposed customs duty on motor fuel exports by individuals crossing the Belarusian border into a country other than Russia more than once in five days.

The following day the authorities banned individuals from taking Belarusian-produced cement, refrigerators, kitchen stoves, detergents and all brands of cereals and pasta out of the country, as well as imposed restrictions on exports of some other foodstuffs by individuals.

Cross-border trade, though illegal, is a major source of income for many people living in western Belarus near the border.


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