As part of our #WeStandBYyou campaign, Christina-Johanne Schröder, Omid Nouripour, Cem Özdemir and Hanna Steinmüller (all Bündnis 90/Die Grünen) as well as Maria Noichl (Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands) are taking on a godparenthood for Artsiom Fedasenka, Vital Brahinets, Dzianis Varozau, Yury Tashkinau and Hanna Kandratsenka.

Christina-Johanne Schröder

Artsiom Fedasenka was the director of an independent printing house where he produced leaflets. On 19 March 2021 he was arrested on charges of producing and distributing unregistered protest leaflets, stickers and newspapers. The court sentenced Artsiom to 4 years’ imprisonment for allegedly “Violation of public order” (Art. 342).

Christina-Johanne Schröder is a member of the German Bundestag for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. She is becoming the godparent to Artsiom Fedasenka and explains: “Despite violent state repression, the people of Belarus have been fighting for years for freedom, democracy and fair elections. I have the greatest respect for them. Artsiom Fedasenka was arrested in 2021 because of his commitment to democracy. His arrest and continued detention are politically motivated and cannot be justified. I therefore call for the immediate and unconditional release of Artsiom Fedasenka and all political prisoners in Belarus.”


Omid Nouripour

Vital Brahinets is a lawyer and advocate for political prisoners. Among others, he defended Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski in court. Vital was initially arrested on 25 May 2022 for taking part in the 2020 protests. He was subsequently charged with “Violation of public order” (Art. 342), “Incitement to hatred” (Art. 130), “Endangering national security” (Art. 361) and “Creation of or participation in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1). The judge sentenced Vital to 8 years in prison. He was also stripped of his licence to practise as a lawyer.

Omid Nouripour is a member of the German Bundestag and federal chairman of Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. He is taking on his second godparenthood and stands in solidarity with Vital Brahinets: “I call for the immediate and unconditional release of Vital Brahinets. Vital is a lawyer and has worked tirelessly for the rule of law in an unjust state. He was the defence lawyer for Nobel Peace Prize winner Ales Bialiatski and was himself a victim of the Belarusian regime. Through my godparenthood, I stand unwaveringly by Vital’s side. The brutal oppression of the Belarusian dictator must stop. We will not stop raising our voices for the release of all 1,400 political prisoners in Belarus. Žyvie Belarus!”


Cem Özdemir

Dzianis Varozau hung a Ukrainian and a Belarusian national flag from the facade of a high-rise building in Minsk. He discussed the action with others in a group chat, which was classified as an extremist formation following Dzianis’ arrest in September 2022. The judge subsequently sentenced Dzianis to five years’ imprisonment for “Creation of or participation in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1) and “Promoting extremist activities” (Art. 361-4).

Cem Özdemir is Germany’s Federal Minister of Food and Agriculture. This is the third time he has become a godparent to a political prisoner in Belarus. Commenting on his godparenthood for Dzianis Varozau, he says “I call for the immediate and unconditional release of Dzianis Varozau. He was arrested because he and his friends had the courage to raise a Ukrainian flag in Minsk. Standing up against the dictatorship in Belarus and for peace in Ukraine is not a crime, it is a human right. In Belarus alone, more than 1,600 people have been arrested for their anti-war protests. With my godparenthood, I stand firmly by all the courageous people who will not give up the fight for peace and democracy. The repression of dictator Lukashenka and his brutal regime must end and all political prisoners must be released. Žyvie Belarus!”


Hanna Steinmüller

Yury Tashkinau commented negatively on the war in Ukraine and shared reports of humanitarian aid projects on social media. He also donated to a Belarusian solidarity fund for political prisoners. As a result of his activities, Yury was sentenced to 3 years’ imprisonment for allegedly “Financing extremist activities” (Art. 361-2) and “Incitement to hatred” (Art. 130).

Hanna Steinmüller is a Member of the Bundestag for Bündnis 90/Die Grünen. She is now supporting Yury Tashkinau as godparent and has issued the following statement: “Anyone in Belarus who exercises their right to freedom of expression, supports democratic protest or openly criticises the authorities faces draconian punishment. According to the Belarusian human rights community, the authorities abuse the criminal law and impose excessively harsh sentences on protesters and opposition activists. This is what happened to Yury Tashkinau. He spoke out for peace and against the state propaganda of the dictatorial regime in Belarus. As a result, he was accused of incitement and supporting a terrorist organisation and sentenced to three years in prison. As part of Libereco’s campaign, I am taking on his godparenthood. I condemn this injustice and call for the immediate release of Yury Tashkinau and all other political prisoners. The universal human right to freedom of expression belongs to all people and must not be restricted by any regime!”


Maria Noichl

Hanna Kandratsenka was arrested on 5 May 2022 and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for “Insulting the President” (Art.368) and “Insulting a government official” (Art. 369). A former fellow prisoner reported that Hanna suffered from a skin disease, which was aggravated by working with polyester upholstery in prison.

Maria Noichl is a Member of the European Parliament for the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands and also the Chairwoman of the SPD Women’s Group. Her support for Hanna Kandratsenka is her second godparenthood and she states: “Hanna Kandratsenka was arrested on 5 May 2022 and sentenced to 3 years in a penal colony for so-called insulting the president and other government officials because of her comments in a Telegram chat. She was also given a very large fine. She is a political prisoner, and for me, who was allowed to grow up in a democracy with freedom of speech and freedom of the press, the charges against her can only be understood as the arbitrariness of a totalitarian regime. Hanna knew what the regime in Belarus was capable of, and she refused to be deterred. Former fellow prisoners fear that she may not survive her stay: She suffers from psoriasis, which is aggravated by working with upholstery fleece, and has no means of support from her family. Hanna is fighting for her rights and the rights of all people in Belarus. Her courage and attitude are exemplary. She and all political prisoners are the light in the darkness of the dictatorship in Belarus. It is therefore important to support the democracy movement and I strongly urge Mr Lukashenko to release Hanna and all other political prisoners immediately!”