As part of our #WeStandBYyou campaign, Beat Flach (Grünliberale Partei, Switzerland), Olga Richterová (Česká pirátská strana, Czech Republic) and Michael Töngi (GRÜNE, Switzerland) are taking on godparenthood for Artsiom Karatkevich, Katsiaryna Brukhanava and Ruslan Zavadzich.

Beat Flach

Artsiom Karatkevich was arrested on 9 June 2023 for moderating a chat group that a court later classified as extremist. Artsiom faces a four-year prison sentence for allegedly “Creation of or participation in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1).

Beat Flach is a member of the Swiss National Council and Vice-President of the Grünliberalen parliamentary group. He takes on the godparenthood for Artsiom Karatkevich and explains: “Artsiom is unjustly imprisoned in Belarus. He has done nothing more than criticise the lack of democracy in his country. In a just society, no one should be persecuted or imprisoned for standing up for basic human rights and democratic values.”


Olga Richterová

Katsiaryna Brukhanava is a Ukrainian citizen and was living in Belarus. During a border check she had to show her mobile phone, and Belarusian officials discovered that Katsiaryna had been recording videos of Russian military transports in Belarus and sharing them in a chat. She was subsequently arrested and sentenced to 2.5 years in a penal colony for allegedly “Promoting extremist activities” (Article 361-4). Katsiaryna was recently part of a prisoner exchange and has been in freedom in Ukraine since 28 June 2024.

Olga Richterová is a member of Parliament for the Pirate Party and Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. She is becoming a godparent for the second time and supports Katsiaryna Brukhanava with the following statement: “Our former president Vaclav Havel wisely noted that ‘indifference…opens the door to evil’. In a similar way, Hannah Arendt wrote that ‘evil thrives on apathy’. We must never become apathetic and indifferent when we see evil, however helpless the situation might seem. By raising awareness, supporting NGOs, and lobbying for sanctions, we can contribute to ending oppression worldwide. Taking patronage of Belarusian political prisoners is the least I can do to support struggling Belarussians deprived of their freedoms by the arrogance of power. The fate of courageous young people like Katsiaryna deserves all our attention and support.”


Michael Töngi

Ruslan Zavadzich worked as a volunteer for a Belarusian environmental organisation dedicated to the protection of native bird species. He also donated to a charity that supported political prisoners in Belarus. The court sentenced Ruslan to 3 years’ imprisonment for his donations, which it recognised allegedly as “Financing extremist activities” (Art. 361-2).

Michael Töngi is a member of the Swiss National Council for the GRÜNEN party. He now stands in solidarity with Ruslan Zavadzich and states: “The Lukashenko regime is cracking down on people who resist and do not accept the repressive conditions in Belarus. These courageous people are arbitrarily sentenced to prison, as happened to Ruslan Zavadzich.  I am taking over the godparenthood for him and demand that Belarus release all political prisoners.”