As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, members of the Bundestag Wiebke Esdar (SPD), Kai Gehring (Bündnis90/DieGrünen) and Stefan Gelbhaar (Bündnis90/DieGrünen) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Viktar Kuushynau, product director of the software company PandaDoc, was arrested on 2 September. His home and office were searched on the same day. The founder of PandaDoc, Mikita Mikada, had previously publicly condemned the political repression in Belarus and collected donations for members of the security forces who refused to carry out criminal orders and therefore lost their jobs. Several PandaDoc employees were subsequently arrested for this activity. Viktar Kuushynau was indicted on 11 September under Article 209 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for alleged “fraud by an organised group or on a large scale”.
Wiebke Esdar, member of the German Bundestag and member of the party executive committee of the SPD, took over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Viktar Kuushynau and declared: “The Belarusian regime must release Viktar Kuushynau immediately! Together with his colleagues from PandaDoc, he is committed to the rule of law and fair trials. This commitment to human rights is something a government must promote, not fear! The fact that Viktar’s colleague Yulia Shardyka is finally free again is a good sign. But now the regime must also release all other political prisoners.”
Rastsislau Stefanovich is a member of the expanded Coordination Council of the Belarusian opposition. He was arrested and beaten by the riot police on 28 September. He has the status of a suspect under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Kai Gehring, Member of the German Bundestag, on the occasion of taking over his prisoner’s godparenthood for Rastsislau Stefanovich, stated: “Since the controversial presidential elections in August, Belarus has been shaken by mass demonstrations and violent state repression. I explicitly express my solidarity with the democracy movement and, in cooperation with the German-Swiss organisation Libereco, I am taking over the godparenthood for the political prisoner Rastsislau Stefanovich. He was arrested on 28 September and has since been held on remand in Minsk. Rastsislau Stefanovich is a member of the opposition’s extended Coordination Council, which aims to coordinate a peaceful transition after the presidential elections. I call for the immediate and unconditional release and protection of life and limb of Ratislau Stefanovich and all political prisoners in Belarus.”
Artsiom Khvashcheuski has been charged under Article 293 (“organising mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code.
Stefan Gelbhaar, Member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Artsiom Khvashcheuski. He states: “I demand the immediate release of the political prisoner Artsiom Khvashcheuski. He was arrested during demonstrations against the rigged presidential election. He is currently being held without trial. We fear for his health as there are many reports of torture in the remand prison. Arresting demonstrators who take to the streets against electoral fraud for weeks on unsubstantiated claims will not help Mr Lukashenka either. My appeal: clear the way for a new political beginning, Mr Lukashenka, and release all political prisoners immediately!”