"Policing the border": Polish authorities detail detention of Ukrainian journalist

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

The Polish police have provided their perspective on the situation regarding the detention of Ukrainska Pravda journalist Mykhailo Tkach near the Polish-Belarusian border along with his camera operator.

The Polish police received a report from a "concerned resident" the day before about two men who had been inside a car near the railway tracks close to the village of Gołyszyn in Łuków County for two days. According to information obtained by the Polish police, the men were taking photos and using a drone.

"Considering the internal security of the state and the fact that railway tracks, especially in the border voivodeships, are strategic locations from a security standpoint, the police intervened against the individuals mentioned," the police explained in their statement. [A voivodeship is an administrative division or province of Poland – ed.]

According to them, both men spoke Ukrainian, identifying themselves as journalists. Due to the language barrier and the need to verify the documents presented, the police had to take action at the police station.

"All actions taken regarding the individuals identified were aimed at establishing their identity and thoroughly checking the reason for their presence on the railway track. After checking the documents, inspecting the contents of their luggage, and compiling relevant documentation on the actions taken, the men left the premises of the District Police Headquarters in Łuków. All documents and belongings were returned to them. None of the individuals subjected to the measures reported any damage to their equipment," the Polish police said.

They also emphasise that during the procedures at the police station, the officers maintained communication with representatives of the Consulate of Ukraine in Poland. "The situation at our eastern border requires increased vigilance from both services and society. We must remember that various provocations can take place on the territory of our country, so we need to act quickly," stated the police.

On 27 February, Ukrainska Pravda reporter Mykhailo Tkach reported an incident involving his detention by the police. Some Polish media outlets have also pointed to a connection between these two events.

Mykhailo Tkach was working with a camera operator near the Polish-Belarusian border (the Podlaskie Voivodeship borders with Belarusian territory), shooting footage about the transit of freight between Poland, Russia and Belarus.

Police officers approached him, showed him their ID, took him to the police station and searched his car and equipment before finally letting him go after four hours of questioning that involved special services.

Sevhil Musaieva, Editor-in-Chief of Ukrainska Pravda, noted that the issue was only resolved after news about it spread and the Ukrainian embassy in Poland was involved.

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