As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Moritz Körner (European Parliament, Free Democratic Party, Germany), Janina Ochojska (European Parliament, Group of the European People’s Party, Poland) and Iulian Bulai (Romanian Chamber of Deputies, USR – Union to Save Romania) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Yauhen Barouski, was detained on 15 October 2020 and sentenced to four years in prison on 2 April 2021 under Article 364 (“violence against a police officer”) and Article 342 (“active participation in group actions”). He participated in the “March of Honor” protests in October 2020 and was arrested for trying to prevent the police from arresting a person.
Iulian Bulai, Member of the Council of Europe and member of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, has taken on the godparenthood for Yauhen Barouski and states: “I stand by Yauhen Barouski. The reasons for his imprisonment are ridiculous. I hope he will soon be released. It is not acceptable that in 2022, in Europe, one can be imprisoned for peacefully demanding his/her democratic rights. Europe will not be the cradle of peace until the last political prisoner will be released. Stay strong, Yauhen! You are not alone.“
Larysa Kuzmenka was arrested on 8 August 2021 and sentenced to two years in prison under Article 364 (“violence or threat of violence against a public official”). She suffers from claustrophobia and was held in pre-trial detention for almost four months.
Janina Ochojska, Member of the European Parliament (independent), has taken on the godparenthood for Larysa Kuzmenka and announces: “Dear Larysa, dear all political prisoners, I watched with admiration your marches and protests, courage and determination in a fight for the freedom of your country. I am deeply convinced that there will be time we will all meet and it will be very soon. You are not forgotten. You are important to me, and to the entire European community. I give you all a heartfelt hug and hope to do it in person someday.”
Ihar Mints, a former employee of the Belarusian oil refinery Naftan, was arrested on 23 September 2021. He is accused of “forming or participating in an extremist association” under Article 361-1 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, as well as “high treason” under Article 356.
Moritz Körner, former godparent of the now released Maksim Shatokhin, is a Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe Group) and a Member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. He has taken on the godparenthood for Ihar Mints and points out: “People who stand up for their own freedom rights must not be muzzled. Ihar Mints has been campaigning for a nationwide strike in Belarus. The Belarusian regime could not stand this, accused him of high treason and imprisoned him in Minsk. This terror must end – for Ihar Mints and all others who are arbitrarily arrested and detained.”