Polish judge seeks asylum in Belarus, criticizes Warsaw’s pro-Western foreign policy

Tomasz Szmydt, who is seeking asylum in Belarus, says Warsaw’s foreign policy is being dictated by the US and its allies.

Polish judge Tomasz Szmydt has asked for political asylum in Belarus in protest over his country’s “unfair and dishonest” anti-Russia stance. Szmydt, who served at the Provincial Administrative Court in Warsaw and was the head of the legal department at the National Council of Judges, says he was forced to leave his home country after being persecuted and threatened for his “independent political position.” He gave a press conference in Minsk on Monday, where he publicly resigned from his post and asked the Belarusian authorities for protection. “The resignation from my position as judge is my way to protest against the unfair and dishonest policy pursued by the Polish authorities towards the Republic of Belarus and the Russian Federation,” Szmydt told reporters, as cited by Belta news agency. According to Szmydt, he has never witnessed any negative attitude towards Russia or Belarus from ordinary Poles, and the anti-Russia sentiment that’s being whipped up by the government in Warsaw has Western roots. “The situation is such that the US wants to drag Poland into the war, to make it a direct participant in the armed conflict. To prevent this, I have to talk about it, but in Poland I cannot do this,” Szmydt stated, adding that Poland’s foreign policy is directly influenced by the US, UK, and Germany.

He said his departure from Poland and his resignation are in protest “against actions that are aimed at involving my country in a direct armed conflict.” Szmydt urged the Polish government to “normalize and regulate good neighborly relations” between Warsaw, Moscow, and Minsk. Szmydt added that his resignation will be handed over to the appropriate authorities in Poland through the Polish consulate in Belarus. He plans to apply for political refugee status. “I am asking for political asylum in the Republic of Belarus. This is an informal request at this time, but… if I want to live, returning to Poland is impossible for me,” he stated. Commenting on the judge’s resignation and statements, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said he was “shocked,” adding that Szmydt’s actions appear to be those of a “traitor.” Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said he ordered an investigation into Szmydt’s actions.

Poland has been one of Ukraine’s key backers amid the conflict between Kiev and Moscow, which broke out in February 2022. The country has sent military aid to Ukraine and has served as a hub for weapons provided by other Western nations. Warsaw has grown increasingly hostile in its attitude towards Russia as the conflict drags on. President Andrzej Duda recently signaled that his country is open to hosting US nuclear weapons in order to “strengthen the security of NATO’s eastern flank,” which he claims Russia could attack if it secures victory in Ukraine.