As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Erik Marquardt (European Parliament, Alliance 90/The Greens), Anikó Merten (German Bundestag, Free Democratic Party) and Laurent Wehrli (Swiss National Council, The Liberals) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.

Erik Marquardt holding a WeStandBYyou sign

Erik Marquardt

Krystsina Charankova was imprisoned on 22 March 2022 for alleged “incitement to hatred” (Criminal Code, Art. 130) and has since been awaiting trial.

Erik Marquardt is a Member of the European Parliament. He has taken on the godparenthood of Krystsina Charankova and states: “Krystsina Charankova was thrown into prison by the regime in Belarus for protesting against the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. As an anti-fascist, Krystsina Charankova was involved in the DIY punk scene and regularly organised concerts in her town of Mosyr, where Russian troops who attacked Ukraine were stationed. She engaged the Russian soldiers in discussions and showed them the middle finger. Now she is facing three to five years in prison for demonstrating against this criminal war of aggression. I demand the release of Krystsina Charankova and the more than 1200 other political prisoners in Belarus.”


Anikó Merten holding a WeStandBYyou sign

Anikó Merten

Iryna and Anton Melkher, mother and son, were arrested on 8 December 2020 for an alleged ” act of terrorism”. Anton has since been charged with “organising activities that grossly violate public order” (Criminal Code Art. 342). Entrepreneur Iryna Melkher is also charged under Art. 342, in addition to being accused of a “conspiracy to seize unconstitutional power” (Art. 357), an “act of terrorism” (Art. 289) and “participation in a criminal organisation” (Art. 285).

Anikó Merten is a member of the German Bundestag and has taken on the godparenthood of Iryna and Anton Melkher. She explains: “There are currently over 1,200 political prisoners in Belarus. As a Free Democrat, it is of outstanding importance to me to give these people a voice through a godparenthood. It is unacceptable how the Lukashenko regime acts against people who, in legitimate protests, pointed out the democratic deficits and proven electoral fraud in their country and fought against such conditions. The knowledge that torture and arbitrariness prevail in Belarusian prisons is unbearable. I therefore call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and for a new election to be held as soon as possible. This must be a result of a structured dialogue between the opposition and those in power, mediated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).”


Laurent Wehrli holding a "WeStandBYyou" sign

Laurent Wehrli

Dzmitry Padrez is an IT professional and has been detained since 15 July 2021. Padrez was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for alleged “violence or threat of violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies” (Criminal Code, Art. 364), “interference in the activities of a police officer” (Art. 365) and “incitement to hatred” (Art. 130).

Laurent Wehrli is a member of the Swiss National Council. On the occasion of taking on the godparenthood of Dzmitry Padrez, Wehrli declared: “I hereby call for the immediate release of Dzmitry Padrez and all political prisoners in Belarus who are imprisoned for standing up for freedom, democracy and the rule of law in their country. My wholehearted solidarity goes out to all of them. Padrez was beaten and taunted upon his arrest in July 2021 and sentenced to seven years in prison this March. I condemn the inhumane actions of the Belarusian authorities and this clearly politically motivated court decision, and as of today I am taking on the godparenthood for Padrez.”