As part of our #WeStandBYyou solidarity campaign, Jana Simanovska, Antoņina Ņenaševa, Mairita Lūse as well as Leila Rasima (Progresīvie) and Juris Viļums (Apvienotais saraksts) have taken on a godparenthood Siarhei Pliashkun, Ala Zuyeva, Yauhen Verkhavodkin, Ala Sakalenka und Ruslan Slutskі.

Jana Simanovska

Siarhei Pliashkun was arrested on 28 February 2022 and sentenced to 16 years in a penal colony under Art. 342 (“violation of public order”), Art. 341 (“desecration of buildings and damage to property”), Art. 130 (“incitement to hatred”), Art. 289 (“an act of terrorism”) and Art. 361-4 (“promoting extremist activities”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Former Swiss National Councillor Natalie Imboden was once Siarhei’s godmother.

Jana Simanovska is a Member of parliament in the Latvian Saeima for the Progresīvie party. She has taken on the godparenthood for Siarhei Pliashkun and explains: “The war started by Russia in Ukraine is unjust and bloody. The Belarusian people, despite the repression of the Lukashenko regime, resisted to prevent Belarus from supporting the aggressor, Putin’s Russia. Serhiy is one of them. I stand in solidarity with Serhiy, who has been sentenced to prison in Belarus for his audacity.”

Antoņina Ņenaševa


Ala Zuyeva was arrested on 19 June 2023 for allegedly “insulting the president” (Art. 369) and “insulting a government official” (Art. 368). Despite her leukaemia, the judge sentenced Ala to 2.5 years in prison. She must also pay a large sum as moral compensation to the “injured parties”.

Antoņina Ņenaševa is the spokeswoman of the Saeima and a board and founding member of the Progresīvie party. She supports Ala Zuyeva with a godparenthood and says: “I am supporting the #WeStandBYyou campaign. During the campaign, I have become a “godmother” to Ala from Belarus. Ala is currently serving a 2.5 year prison sentence for insulting dictator Alexander Lukashenko. Despite having health problems, Ala was sentenced by the regime’s court to this unjust and harsh punishment. Behind every dictator there are thousands of victims of the regime, ordinary people who have dared to say something critical or to attend a demonstration. Often these people are punished on made-up charges. Let us support Ala and the Belarusian struggle for freedom and democracy.”


Mairita Lūse

Yauhen Verkhavodkin was arrested during a wave of arrests on 22 December 2022 and was at first charged with “disturbing public order” under Art. 342. However, he was tried in court for allegedly ” creating or participating in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1) and ” harming national security” (Art. 361). Yauhen must serve a seven-year prison sentence.

Mairita Lūse is a Latvian environmental activist and MP for the Progresīvie party. With her godparenthood, she stands in solidarity with Yauhen Verkhavodkin and states: “Yauhen Verkhavodkin will have to spend 7 years in prison for taking part in peaceful post-election protests. Yauhen was arrested in December. While the rest of us were preparing for Christmas, his life changed forever. Peaceful protests are not a crime. I’ve held posters and I’ve marched. As a parliamentarian, I’ve walked between protesters, both supporting and criticizing our decisions. Protesting is one of the basic rights in a democratic country. Yauhen has no close relatives, but I hope there is somebody waiting for him outside of the prison walls.”


Leila Rasima

Ala Sakalenka (Alla Sokoļenko) is a Latvian citizen and was arrested on 27 March 2022 for alleged “agent activity” (Art. 358-1). Belarusian state television showed Ala’s arrest in the film “Counterintelligence. Operations of the Belarusian KGB against the secret services of the West and Ukraine.” The trial took place behind closed doors and the sentence is not known.

Leila Rasima is Member of the Latvian Parliament and leader of the parliamentary group “For support of democratic Belarus”. She has taken on the godparenthood for Ala Sakalenka and states: ““Ala Sakalenka (Alla Sokoļenko) is a Latvian citizen, who went to Belarus in the spring of 2022 and never returned to her home in Latvia. She has been accused of spying on behalf of Latvia and is facing potentially 3 to 7 years in prison. As the leader of the parliamentary group “For the support of democratic Belarus”, I express full solidarity with the Belarusian democracy movement and support Belarusians in their fight against Lukashenka’s repressive regime. Belarus must become a free and democratic state and be a part of democratic Europe. It is important for us in Latvia to have a democratic neighbouring country that respects human rights and freedom of speech. I call for the release of all political prisoners in Belarus, including Ala Sakalenka, so that she can return to her home in Latvia!””


Juris Viļums

Ruslan Slutskі was arrested on 20 January 2021 and sentenced to 11 years in prison for an alleged “act of terrorism” (Art. 289) and “intentional damage to a vehicle or communication line” (Art. 309). Ruslan also has a benign brain tumour and suffers from severe back pain. He is denied adequate medical treatment.

Juris Viļums represents the Apvienotais saraksts in the Saeima and is now the symbolic godfather of Ruslan Slutski. He makes the following statement about his godparenthood: “Ruslan Slutski from Polatsk is sentenced to 11 years in prison for his courageous action in opposing the terrorist Lukashenko regime by trying to block traffic on the railway tracks and puncturing the tyres of some cars. If this is an appropriate punishment, how many years in prison does Lukashenko deserve for his actions? I live 20 km from the Belarusian border. On the other side of the free world. My region, Latgale, used to be part of the Vitebsk region. I have Belarusians living next door, my wife is part Belarusian… Then I am Belarusian myself. If not by blood, then by historical connection and belief. If I lived 21 km further south-east, I would also be in prison now. It is as simple as that. That is why I support the #WeStandBYyou campaign. We really are standing closer to you! Belarus will be free!”