18 January 2018, Thursday, 20:32

Aleh Vouchak: They'll name all of us “spies” if we keep silence

Andrei Haidukou is accused of “imposing a political course on the Republic of Belarus that doesn't meet the country's national interests”.

The activist is also accused of “applying to the US Embassy's fund for financing his activity and calling on targeted sanctions”. These facts and the trial behind closed doors give grounds to call the case political, head of the organisation Legal Assistance to Public Aleh Vouchak said in an interview with Belorusski Partizan.

“Two weeks after the arrest if Haidukou we learnt that its was caused by an application to the US Embassy for a grant. The Legal Assistance to Public already said there were no political motives or spying in Haidukou's case. It is a clearly political case aimed at scaring democratic activists,” the human rights defender said.

He noted that his organisation regarded Haidukou as a political prisoner.

“We already made an official statement that Andrei Haidukou is a political prisoners. Seven organisations, including the solidarity movement Razam, joined our statement for two days. We think there are all grounds to give Haidukou the status of a political prisoner.

It's obvious that Haidukou was an active participant of the opposition movement. He was an activist of European Belarus civil campaign. He participated in an election campaign for a democratic group in Navapolatsk. He was in Andrei Sannikov's team in the 2010 presidential elections. He was the leader of the organising committee to create the Union of Young Intellectuals. The KGB threatened to stop this activity,” the human rights activist says.

Aleh Vouchak noted the sincere letter to Tatsiana Seviarynets after eight months of isolation looks strange. He says the case shows a new way of pressing on the opposition.

“It is not a single case. It is a signal to all democratic institutions that work with foreign partners. It's highly probable that it won't be the last spy case. We are likely to see more such cases before the presidential elections. We shouldn't forget that policemen near foreign embassies wrote down passport information of everyone entering the embassy. People, apart from us, do not react to this outrageous behavior.

Haidukou is accused of applying to the US Embassy for support. But neither international nor Belarusian laws ban grants. He had the right to apply to the embassy (we need to check the fact of applying to the embassy), the embassy could have given a grant, which he should have registered in the Humanitarian Aid Department under Belarusian laws. Imprisonment for thoughts– we haven't seen it in Belarus yet. Historian Aliaksei Karol says it resembles the times when people were jailed only for their thoughts,” the human rights activist says.

The human rights defender thinks Belarus may follow Russia's path, where opposition members are given the status of foreign services agents.

“We cannot remain silent in this situation. Otherwise we will be named 'spies' tomorrow. We need to seek the release of Haidukou at any cost. The main thing is not to miss the opportunity. I am confident that Haidukou will be recognised as political prisoner by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee and other human rights groups. We also should appeal to Amnesty International to recognise him as prisoner of conscience,” Aleh Vouchak said.