The authorities are afraid of the autumn protests and want to "neutralize" the leaders now.
Brest European Belarus civil campaign activist Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk stated that to Charter97.org. Her status of a witness in the case of the banner with the inscription: "Lukashenka, You Are A Freak! Stop Plundering Our People!", which has been put up in Brest, has been changed to the status of a suspect.
– Could you give us more details about the so-called "identification", which has taken place in the investigator's office? How legitimate was the procedure?
– There was something circusy about it. To begin with, before all the "identifications" started, before the so-called "witness" was invited into the room, the whole set of documents needed to change my status of a "suspect" was ready and was lying on the investigator's desk.
The very procedure of the "identification" was simply ridiculous. I was placed on a sofa next to two girls, whose appearance differed sharply from mine. As far as I know, identification is conducted between similar people, who answer to the description, given by the eyewitnesses to the police. In my case, there were two brightly colored blondes with long straight hair.
When the "witness", a certain Ihar Leaniuk, came in, he immediately "identified me". At the same time, he did not know when it had happened, and he did not understand well, where it had taken place. After my questions about the place and time, he began to doubt whether it had been me, but they pointed out in the investigator's report that he had "properly identified the suspect". However, the "witness" said that he "remembers for sure" another event participant, the man. My husband has been summoned to the Investigative Committee today, let's see what this so-called "witness" is to say today.
After that, the investigator announced that she had qualified me as a "suspect", and offered to take my buccal epithelium for examination. I refused from the examination, as I refused to testify against myself and give any explanations on this "case", because I generally deny the legitimacy of this "case."
– What assessment can you give to the actions of the authorities?
– It is an obvious political pressure. The article on "insulting Lukashenka" has always been used for political reasons in our country. Now this pressure is being put on me and my family.
Obviously, there is a planned attack of the authorities on political activists, especially on those who showed themselves as leaders of popular protests this spring. This is a kind of "response" of the regime to our Spring-2017.
– What are you going to do in this situation?
– I will keep informing the independent media about the development of the situation. I will try not to sign any "obligations" on non-disclosure. Let them be sure – I will not remain silent.
My husband and I know this shady committee well enough, and we are ready for anything. It can be said that if this banner "Lukashenka, You Are A Freak! Stop Plundering Our People!" did not exist in nature at all, they would still have invented it. Or something similar. They would fasten on something else.
– Yesterday the Investigative Committee in Minsk summoned your European Belarus colleague Yauhen Afnahel. Why does the government pay such attention to this civil campaign? After all, it is a "lull" now after mass spring protests.
– For all the years of its existence, the European Belarus civil campaign has proved to be the most consistent political force that opposes Lukashenka’s regime.
Therefore, the main blow of the authorities is now directed against the most principled and consistent political force of the Belarusian society.
The authorities have specially chosen this summer vacation period for their attack in the hope that political activity both in Belarus and Europe is now lower, and everything will be done, while people are "relaxed".
The regime is afraid of a burst of popular protests in the fall and wants to "neutralize" potential leaders even now. As the Bible says: "I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered."
– You are the mother of two children. Today in Belarus, the people, who are behind the bars on the trumped-up "patriots' case", are cut off from their families. What can Belarusians do to help you and those who have actually become political prisoners?
– The information that people are being persecuted for political reasons in Belarus, must be conveyed both in Belarus and internationally. The demands to release political prisoners and stop reprisals against activists must be conveyed together with the appeal to the international community to take tough and principled decisions in relation to the Belarusian authorities.
The theme of political prisoners must constantly be discussed in the Belarusian and international press. It is important to draw the attention of human rights defenders and leaders of democratic countries to the fact that Belarus has "special" articles of the Criminal Code that are used to deal with political opponents.