Updated at 15:34,14-12-2017

Poland to end university education program for Belarusian victims of politically motivated persecution

By Alena Spasyuk, BelaPAN

An activist has announced that the Polish government will replace its years-long educational assistance program for victims of politically motivated persecution in Belarus with a smaller work experience program for Belarusian master's degree holders.

Some 900 people have received scholarships under the Kastus Kalinowski program to study at Polish universities since it was launched in the wake of Belarus' 2006 presidential election, Ina Kuley, leader of Salidarnasts (Solidarity), an organization that administers the program, told BelaPAN.

No new students will be admitted to the program starting next academic year. However, all students who are currently involved in the program will be provided with scholarships until their graduation.

The program will be succeeded by another one, which will focus on providing a year's internship to holders of master's degree in humanities, social sciences, economy and law.

Applicants, who must be 39 or younger, will be required to "present scholarly achievements and activity with social, public organizations dealing with society's political, social or economic transformation," said Ms. Kuley.

Participants will receive a monthly scholarship of 2,400 zlotys ($608 at present) for 10 months.

The Polish government believes that there are now fewer victims of political persecution in Belarus, and the program will not be limited to those who have been harassed by authorities on political motives, said Ms. Kuley.

Salidarnasts is aware of nine Belarusian students who have recently been expelled from universities for their political activity, said the activist. It has worked to arrange their admission to Polish universities, she said.

"We have sought to draw the Polish government's attention to the existence of students who have been persecuted and expelled," she said. "And they are now in limbo. We would like to help the young people."