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Poland Launches Belarus TV Station

Poland has launched a new television station aimed at Belarus that it says will broadcast independent news and other programming to its eastern neighbor.

The new Warsaw-based Belsat TV channel is funded by the Polish government and will be available to those Belarusians with access to a satellite receiver - about one-tenth of the population.

Belsat's programming will be prepared by journalists working in both countries. The station will initially broadcast three hours a day but plans to eventually increase that to 16 hours.

Poland has had strained ties with Belarus for several years and has voiced concern about the state of democracy in the former Soviet republic. Belarus has a large Polish minority. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has accused them of plotting to overthrow his government.

In October, Belarusian police arrested the president of a Polish association, Andzelika Borys and the editor of a Polish language magazine, Viktor Bancer, on charges of unlawfully cursing in public.

The international community has repeatedly criticized Mr. Lukashenko for his authoritarian polices, and the United States has called Belarus the last dictatorship in Europe.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.