As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Sandra Kalniete (European Parliament, Vienotība, Latvia), Deborah Düring (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens) and Thijs Reuten (European Parliament, Labour Party, Netherlands) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Larysa Berazhnova was arrested on 29 September 2021 and charged under Art. 369 (“insulting a public official”) and Art. 130 (“incitement to hatred”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code and sentenced to 2 ½ years in a penal colony.
Sandra Kalniete, Member of the European Parliament, has taken on the godparenthood for Larysa Berazhnova and states: “Freedom of expression is not a crime. Those who take to the streets or speak out online for their rights, for freedom and democracy, are not criminals. I stand in full solidarity with Larysa Berazhnova, who was detained in Minsk for posting comments online regarding the deaths of IT worker Andrei Zeltser and KGB agent Dzmitry Fedasiuk. My full solidarity and support goes out to courageous people in Belarus and to the Belarusian democratic opposition. I demand the immediate release of Larysa Berazhnova and all other political prisoners. The atrocities and repressions committed by Lukashenka and his henchmen will not be left unaccountable. One thing is certain – Lukashenka, just like Putin, will face international justice by court or tribunal. Zhyve Belarus!”
Kanstantsin Rudnitski is a student and was arrested on 2 December 2021. On 12 July 2022, he was sentenced to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of 3,200 BYN (1,270 USD) under Art. 130 (“Incitement to hatred”) and Art. 203-1 (“Illegal acts concerning information on private life and personal data”), and is also on the KGB list of alleged terrorists.
Deborah Düring, Member of the German Bundestag and former godparent of the now released Iryna Kastsiuchenka, has taken on the godparenthood for Kanstantsin Rudnitski and emphasises: “My full solidarity goes to the courageous people in Belarus who, despite the threat of brutal violence, have taken to the streets for fair and free elections and continue to fight for a democratic Belarus. I strongly condemn the state violence against them. Kanstantsin Rudnitski is one of these brave people. He did not accept the mistreatment of demonstrators and showed courage. He and all other political prisoners must be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Ivan Murauyou was arrested on 29 August 2022 and sentenced to 2 ½ years imprisonment on 26 December 2022 under Article 361-1 (“forming or participating in an extremist group”). The trial took place behind closed doors.
Thijs Reuten, Member of the European Parliament and former godparent of the now released Uladzislau Makavetski, has taken on the godparenthood of Ivan Murauyou and states: “Ivan Murauyou is one of many imprisoned for political reasons by Lukashenka’s dictatorial regime in Belarus. As a journalist, cameraman and photographer, he wants to speak out against the regime and for justice, but it is clear that Putin’s lapdog is so afraid of any critical voice that they are all silenced through intimidation, trumped-up charges and fake trials. Ivan Murauyou must be released immediately, as must the countless journalists, human rights activists and other political prisoners in jail in Belarus.“