Members of the European Parliament Katarina Barley (Germany) and Robert Biedron (Poland) and Members of the Swiss National Council Marianne Streiff-Feller and Lilian Studer have taken over godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus as part Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou.

Katarina Barley

Liliya Ulasava is a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council, a well-known lawyer and international mediator, as well as a partner and director of the law firm Ulasava, Mikhel and Partners. She was arrested by the Financial Investigation Department on 31 August and later charged under Article 243 of the Belarusian Criminal Code for alleged tax evasion.

Katarina Barley, Vice-President of the European Parliament, on the occasion of taking over her prisoner’s godparenthood for Liliya Ulasava, stated: “The peaceful struggle of the Belarusian people for democracy continues to deserve our full solidarity and support! We have expressed this in a resolution in the European Parliament by a large majority. Lukashenka’s dictatorial oppression of people exercising their most basic rights such as freedom of expression and assembly is unacceptable. Peaceful protest is not a crime! This is why I have taken over a prisoner’s godparenthood for a courageous woman as part of the #WeStandBYyou campaign. I demand the immediate release of Liliya Ulasava, member of the presidium of the opposition Coordination Council, and of all other political prisoners! Those responsible must be called to account”.

Robert Biedron

Illia Salei is the lawyer of Maria Kolesnikova, who is a member of the Presidium of the Coordination Council. He was arrested on 9 September and his home was searched. He is suspected of an offence under Article 361 of the Belarusian Criminal Code (“appeals to actions aimed at harming the national security of the Republic of Belarus”).

Robert Biedron, the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Belarus delegation, has taken over the prisoner’s godparenthood for Illia Salei. He declared: “I was alarmed to hear about Illia’s arrest. This determined young man has spent the last months fighting for freedom and democracy of his country and I admire his courage. Just like dozens of other political prisoners in Belarus he is a victim of Lukashenka’s desperate attempts to maintain power. To Illia and all political prisoners in Belarus: Don’t lose your hope and continue the fight. Together with my colleagues in the European Parliament we won’t rest until you are all released.”

Marianne Streiff-Feller and Lilian Studer

Vital Prakapchuk and his son Yahor Prakapchuk were arrested in Brest on 19 August. Father and son are suspected of “participation in mass riots” under Article 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code and are held in custody in Brest.

The Swiss National Councillors Marianne Streiff-Feller and Lilian Studer have taken over the godparenthood for Vital and Yahor Prakapchuk and jointly declared: “We demand the immediate release of Yahor Prakapchuk and his father Vital Prakapchuk and the other detainees who have peacefully demonstrated for democracy and fair elections and thus for the well-being of their country. Freedom of expression and assembly on a peaceful basis must be guaranteed”.