27 May 2018, Sunday, 6:33

Zmitser Bandarenka: Belarusian Opposition Shows Its Subjectness

Zmitser Bandarenka

The criminal case against the Sharenda family was stopped. Will the "case of patriots" be stopped?

The Brest office of the Investigative Committee has stopped the persecution of Andrei Sharenda and Palina Panasiuk-Sharenda, the activists of the civil campaign European Belarus. Police initiated a criminal case against the activists for hanging out the banner "Lukashenka, you are a freak! Stop plundering our people!" in Brest, which, according to the conclusion of the experts, "cynically insulted" Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

"Someone hanged out a banner on February 17, saying " Lukashenka, you are a freak! Stop plundering our people!" and a criminal case was initiated for insulting the dictator," – Andrei Sharenda said in an interview with Belsat.

The activists had an alibi: they participated in the Outraged Belarusians March on February 17 and even got fined for that.

"Obviously, this is a politically motivated frame-up against us aimed to limit our activities, as we are European Belarus activists," – Palina Panasiuk-Sharenda says.

The authorities stopped pursuing Andrei and Palina due to the absence of the event of a crime in their actions and lack of evidence. But it doesn’t mean investigation’s justness, former political prisoner, European Belarus civil campaign coordinator Zmitser Bandarenka says. The issue is about the magical sanctions, which Lukashenka's regime can get from the West for new political prisoners:

"This is the active international solidarity campaign and the international activity of European Belarus leader Andrei Sannikov, and international meetings and events at that time, the arrival of foreign ministers, and then the holding of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly," – European Belarus civil campaign coordinator Zmitser Bandarenka believes.

The same thing with the shameful continuation of the "patriots’" case, which was initiated after Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s statement about the "paid" militants. In the spring, when there were waves of protests against the decree on "parasites" raging in Belarus, the KGB arrested 30 people, accusing them of preparing "mass riots" and "creating armed groups." And state television showed a propaganda film about "militants".

To date, 14 people remain in custody, the KGB has passed the case to the Investigative Committee. The accusation of preparing the nonexistent mass riots has disappeared.

"The Belarusian opposition showed its subjectivity, offered negotiations with the authorities. All that was the reason why the authorities used repressions," – Zmitser Bandarenka says.

The "patriots’" case share the same destiny as the case of the banner with the "poem" about Lukashenka: there might no trial on it.