As part of our solidarity campaign #WeStandBYyou, Benedetto Della Vedova (Camera Dei Deputati, Italy, +Europa), Olga Richterová (Parlament České Republiky, Czechia, Piráti) and Marcel Emmerich (German Bundestag, Alliance 90/The Greens) have taken on a godparenthood for political prisoners in Belarus.
Artsiom Zubrakou was arrested on 29 September 2022. The judge found him guilty of allegedly violating Article 130 (“Incitement to racial, national, religious or other social hatred or enmity”) and Art. 203-1 (“Illegal actions with respect to information about private life and personal data”) of the Belarusian Criminal Code. Artsiom was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment.
Benedetto Della Vedova is a Member of the Italian parliament and one of the founders of the +Europa (Più Europa) party. As first Italian parliamentarian to join the #WeStandBYyou campaign, he states: “In January 2023, Artsiom Zubrakou, a 32 year old employee of Belagro holding, was sentenced behind closed doors to five years imprisonment and detained in a general security penal colony. Charges against him? White-red-white accessories were seized during a search. These ludicrous “charges” were sufficient to trigger the infamous art.130 CC on incitement of hatred. A tragic Darkness at noon atmosphere looms over Lukashenko’s Belarus. I call on the Belarusian judiciary to release Artsiom immediately and guarantee the right to a fair trial to him and all other political prisoners. I urge other Italian lawmakers and MPs around the world to support Libereco’s Goodparenthood campaign and adopt a political prisoner arbitrarily arrested. My hope is for a regime change in Belarus but now we must collectively do our utmost to generate and strengthen an environment conducive to accountability for violations of human rights.”
Ryta Zotava, born in 2002, was charged under Art. 130 (“Incitement to racial, national, religious or other social hatred or enmity”) for allegedly insulting OMON officers. Ryta was sentenced to 2 years in prison.
Olga Richterová is Vice-President of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. She has become Ryta Zotava’s godmother and makes the following statement: “Ryta Zotava, a Belarusian student, was arrested on 28 December 2021, for distributing leaflets, whose content, according to investigators, was “humiliating” for OMON members. She is serving her sentence in a penal colony with general security. Another young person in a totalitarian country. The Belarusian regime harshly punishes every voice yearning for freedom, taking away any future from young people. Since Alina Horava, whose story I have already covered publicly, was released to house arrest, I decided to focus on Ryta Zotava’s case and become her “political godmother”. Every voice in support of political prisoners counts.”
Andrei Raptunovich is an artist who taught at an additional education centre in Minsk. He was arrested on 16 May 2022 and sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment for allegedly “creating or participating in an extremist formation” (Art. 361-1) and “participating or preparing to participate in hostilities on foreign soil by a citizen of the Republic of Belarus” (Art. 361-3).
Marcel Emmerich is a Member of the German Bundestag (Alliance 90/The Greens). He has taken on the godparenthood of Andrei Raptunovich and says: “I stand in full solidarity with the political prisoners in Belarus. It is not a crime to oppose an illegitimate regime and its repression, led by a dictator. Andrei Raptunovich was sentenced to 4 years in prison for showing solidarity with Ukraine after Russia, together with the support of the Belarusian regime, attacked Ukraine last year. He and his peers are risking much with their courageous resistance. They are standing up not only for the freedom and self-determination of their own people, but also for the people of Ukraine. I will continue to campaign for the release of all political prisoners and stand firmly with the courageous people of Belarus. The Belarusian democracy movement has our full solidarity and support.”