As part of the Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, the Swiss Members of the Council of States Céline Vara and Lisa Mazzone as well as the Austrian MEP Andreas Schieder and the German Member of the Bundestag René Röspel take over godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Dmitry Popov is a moderator of several social media accounts associated with the YouTube channel “A Country For Living”. He was imprisoned in early June. He has been charged under Article 342 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“organising or preparing actions which grossly violate public order”).
Céline Vara, a member of the Council of States of the Swiss Green Party, said on the occasion of her taking over her prisoner’s godparenthood for Dmitry Popov: “I demand the immediate release of Dmitry Popov. Peaceful protests for democracy should not lead to imprisonment. Democratic states should not fear dialogue with young people, but listen to them. There can be no response from a state other than a peaceful and democratic one”.
Dzmitry Karaka is coordinator of the nomination group of the presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. He was arrested on 18 June together with Babaryka and his son. Dzmitry Karaka’s house was searched before his arrest.
Lisa Mazzone, member of the Council of States of the Swiss Green Party, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Dzmitry Karaka. She declared: “Dzmitry Karaka has been locked up in the prisons of the Belarusian secret service since 18 June for the sole reason that he is a member of the campaign team of the political regime opponent Viktar Babaryka, a presidential candidate who in polls was credited with 50 percent of the votes for the overthrow of the dictator Lukashenka. His arrest and the arrest of members of his campaign team, including Karaka, is a violation of democracy and the rule of law. Dzmitry Karaka and all political prisoners must be released immediately.”
Yury Savitski is a member of the nomination group of the presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. He was arrested after the elections of 9 August 2020 and charged under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“participation in mass riots”).
Andreas Schieder, Member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament (SPÖ), said on the occasion of his taking over his prisoner’s godparenthood for Yury Savitski: “Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of democracy, but unfortunately this fundamental right to free elections is being trampled underfoot in Belarus. For more than 26 years Lukashenko has been in power there, a position he could only maintain through the systematic oppression of his own people. This has included rigging elections and imprisoning any political opposition. This year, too, many opposition leaders and their associates were imprisoned. That is why I took over the godparenthood for Yury Savitski, who was a member of the campaign team of presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. He has been a political prisoner since August. I call for the immediate release of Yury Savitski, as well as all those who are in detention simply for promoting democracy in Belarus. We in the European Parliament support your call for democracy. #WeStandBYyou.”
Aliaksandr Vasilevich is a businessman and co-founder of the online media channels kyky.org and The Village-Belarus, as well as owner of the Vondel / Hepta agency and the event space gallery Ў. He was arrested on 28 August by representatives of the Financial Investigation Department of the State Control Committee. His flat, office and the companies he manages were searched. As his lawyer has undertaken not to disclose the materials of the investigation, it is not known at this stage under which article of the Criminal Code he will be charged. His wife, Nadzeya Zeliankova, is also a suspect in these criminal proceedings.
René Röspel, Member of the German Bundestag (SPD), has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Aliaksandr Vasilevich. He stated: “Aliaksandr Vasilevich was arrested in Minsk on 28 August. Like many other courageous people in Belarus, he has stood up to head of state Lukashenka, who has been using all his might against peaceful demonstrators since the presidential elections at the beginning of August. I demand the release of Aliaksandr Vasilevich! He and all other political prisoners in Belarus must be released immediately and the violence and repression against peaceful demonstrators must stop immediately. My solidarity goes out to all Belarusians who take to the streets against the state power”.