Meanwhile, Merkel spoke by phone with the leader of the Belarusian opposition in exile, Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, about the political crisis in Belarus and the “difficult situation” at the border.
Poland is pushing migrants back, saying it is protecting the border for all of Europe. It has received strong statements of support from the EU, NATO and the US.
A video posted on Twitter Monday by Polish security forces spokesman Stanislaw Zaryn shows Russian lawmaker Vitaly Milonov, on the Belarusian side of the border, shouting sarcastic comments in Russian at Polish border guards.
“Catholics, where is the love for neighbor? Your faith means less to you than your pay and instructions from Brussels, ”Milonov, a member of the ruling United Russia party, shouted through the closed Bruzgi-Kuznica checkpoint.
Poland is a predominantly Roman Catholic nation.
The International Rescue Committee said 13 migrants have died in the forests on both sides of the border. Others have given up hope of reaching Europe and were flown back to the Middle East.
Humanitarian groups and the Catholic Church have been pushing to allow them to bring aid to stranded migrants.
Lukashenko responded on Monday to the Polish authorities, accusing them of “trying to solve their internal and external problems by putting pressure on Belarus and accusing it of guilty of the problems of Poland.”
He insisted that the migrants were heading west to reach relatives in Germany.
“We have not been transporting anyone across the border,” he said. “Those people are heading there on their own. We don’t want any confrontation … but we will protect these hapless as much as we can. “
Polish Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said there were more than 300 attempts by migrants on Sunday to cross the barbed wire border fence into the EU. She said most were prevented, while about 60 who made it through were turned away. In one case, about 150 “aggressive foreigners” tried to cross, aided by Belarusian forces who used laser pointers and spotlights to blind Polish border guards, he said.
She said Poland is planning return flights for hundreds of Iraqis now at the country’s guarded migrant centers.
Of about 1,900 migrants in those centers, more than 1,200 are Iraqis, he said. About 700 have applied for international protection and are awaiting a decision on whether they will be able to remain in the EU. Poland would like to take the others back.
Michalska said Poland is asking Baghdad for permission to take the first batch of about 80 Iraqis in the next few days on a chartered flight.
“We are working with the Iraqi side that must agree to receive their citizens back,” Michalska said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone with Belarusian opposition leader in exile, Svetlana Tikhanouskaya, about the crisis in Belarus and the border with the European Union, a government spokesman said on Monday.
The Chancellor underscored the continued support of the Federal Government for the Belarusian democratic movement and stressed that the country’s political leadership must end the repression against the opposition and independent journalists, release the prisoners and enter into a serious dialogue with society to resolve the crisis through free and fair elections, ”said spokesperson Steffen Seibert.
Belarusian strongman Lukashenko claimed a resounding victory in last year’s presidential election despite widespread opinion that the vote was fraudulent. Various opposition groups say Tikhanouskaya won.
The resulting crackdown has involved hundreds of people in jail and there have been reports of torture by opposition activists. It also spurred a lively opposition movement in countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Germany, where many Belarusians live.
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