As part of Libereco’s solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Stephanie Aeffner (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens), Andreas Mehltretter (German Bundestag, Social Democratic Party) and Thijs Reuten (European Parliament, Labour Party) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.

Stephanie Aeffner

Stanislau Filimonau was detained on 17 May 2021 and sentenced to five years of imprisonment for “participation in riots” (Art. 293 of the Belarusian Criminal Code). 

Stephanie Aeffner has become the godparent of Stanislau Filimonau. Here’s what she has to say: “After more than six months of war against the Ukrainian civilian population, we are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe in the middle of Europe, before the eyes of the entire world. My admiration goes especially to the courageous people who oppose Putin’s tyranny, both in Ukraine and inside Russia, as well as in Belarus and other states. Even before the war, the rulers in Russia and Belarus used the most brutal means to put down the burgeoning democracy movement. People who peacefully take to the streets against the repression and for more freedoms are arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned. One of them is 23-year-old Stanislau Filimonau, who has been imprisoned since May 2021 and sentenced to five years in prison. Through Libereco, I have taken on a godparenthood for him. For him and his thousands of fellow sufferers in Belarus and Russia, I call on us and our European allies to stand united against these regimes and work for the immediate release of all political prisoners! Only by respecting human rights can a lasting peace in Europe exist.”


Andreas Mehltretter

Real estate agent Illia Turkou was detained on 27 July 2020 and sentenced to four years of imprisonment for the “organization or active participation in actions that grossly violate public order” (Art. 342 of the Criminal Code) and “violence against an employee of the internal affairs bodies” (Art. 364). 

Andreas Mehltretter, who has taken on the godparenthood for Illia Turkou, declares: “I stand by you, Illia Turkou! Exercising his right to freedom of assembly and speech, Illia Turkou was arrested and imprisoned as were many others. Protestors in Belarus demand what we often take for granted: human and civil rights as well as free elections. I fully support these demands, and I support Illia Turkou and urge the Belarusian authorities to release him!”


Thijs Reuten

Siarhei Hardziyevich was detained on 22 December 2020. The charges against him included “insulting a government official” (Art. 369), “insulting the President of the Republic of Belarus” (Art. 368) and “defamation” (Art. 188). Consequently, he was sentenced to one and a half years of imprisonment.

Thijs Reuten is a Member of the European Parliament for the Netherlands (Labour Party). Following the release of political prisoner Uladzislau Makavetski, he has now taken on the godparenthood for Siarhei Hardziyevich and comments as follows: “After Uladzislau Makavetski was released after serving the sentence he should never have been convicted to, I am adopting a new political prisoner. Siarhei Hardziyevich is a journalist of the online media outlet Pieršy Rehijon. He is only a few years older than me and was detained by the riot police in December 2020. Last August he was sentenced to 18 months in a general-security penal colony. His crime? He was charged with insulting the president, based on a Viber message, an absurd allegation by a scared regime in trouble, desperately trying to hold on to power by detaining journalists, activists and peaceful civilians. I’m worried about Siarhei because his health condition is not good. I call on the dictator and his regime to immediately release all political prisoners including Siarhei.”