As part of the solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou of Libereco, Thomas Heilmann (Bundestag, CDU), Lord Russell (British Upper House, Crossbencher) and Rosie Cooper (British Lower House, Labour Party) have taken over a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus. 

Illia Mihno is a student of the Polytechnic University in Brest. He was arrested at work on August 19 for having participated in protests. He was charged under Article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code and sentenced to 4.5 years in prison on March 10.

Thomas Heilmann 

Thomas Heilmann, member of the German Bundestag, has taken over the godparenthood for Illia Mihno and stated: “Illia Mihno and many protesters have done nothing more than protesting against Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s electoral fraud. I am more than dismayed and can not comprehend the treatment of Illia Mihno, of all the political prisoners and demonstrators. We all, as the Western community, demand the immediate release of Illia Mihno and all the other political prisoners. In any state with a functioning and fair judiciary, it must be guaranteed that detainees can exercise their right to independent defence! We must urge the Belarusian dictator Lukashenka to stop the injustice of mass arrests. The suppression must come to an end. People have no chance in protecting themselves. He has to allow a dialogue with the opposition, which will ultimately lead to free elections.”

Ruslan Akostka is a resident of Salihorsk. He is known for walking across the city with a white-red-white flag on November 15. By doing that, he honored the murdered protester Raman Bandarenka. Ruslan was arrested the same day. On February 4 he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Lord Russell of Liverpool 

Lord Russell of Liverpool, member of the British House of Lords and the UK Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has taken over the godparenthood for Ruslan Akostka and stated: “I am proud to support Ruslan Akostka. He has been sentenced to three years imprisonment in a penal colony for exercising his human right as a Belarussian citizen to participate in a peaceful demonstration. It is a measure of the Belarussian regime’s moral and legal bankruptcy that it should demonstrate its fear of its own citizens, whose interests it is there to serve, by denying them the fundamental freedom of expression which is their absolute right and by punishing and silencing them in defiance of all accepted legal norms.”

Aliaksandr Drazdou was detained on November 30 and charged under article 293 (“participation in mass riots”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. On March 10 he was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.

Rosie Cooper

Rosie Cooper, member of the British House of Commons, has taken over the godparenthood for Aliaksandr Drazdou. On this occasion, Rosie Cooper stated: “Aliaksandr Drazdou was unfairly and unjustly arrested in November 2020 for his involvement in peaceful protests in Brest following the rigged election in August. The Belarusian authorities have been systematically using arrests and imprisonment to intimidate any sign of dissent and disagreement in the country. It is outrageous and that Aliaksandr has been given a sentence of 4.5 years in prison purely for objecting to the results of the election. I call upon the Belarusian authorities to release Aliaksandr immediately and work towards free and fair elections.”