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Andrei Sharenda: We Must Break The Back Of The Lukashenka Regime

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Andrei Sharenda: We Must Break The Back Of The Lukashenka Regime
ANDREI SHARENDA

The political prisoner's husband calls on the world community to take decisive action.

Today it became known that a political prisoner, former member of the Hramada party, Ihar Lednik, died in Babruisk colony #2. He was 64 years old.

This is the seventh known death of a political prisoner in a Belarusian prison. The Charter97.org website asked Andrei Sharenda, an activist of the European Belarus civil campaign, the husband of political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasiuk, for a comment:

— What happened to Ihar Lednik was a political contract murder. You need to call a spade a spade. When a person with a disability is sentenced to three years in prison under a far-fetched article, the judge, the prosecutor, and others know that they are sending him to certain death. The blame lies entirely with the Lukashenka regime.

Let me emphasize that the deaths of political prisoners have become more frequent. This is the fourth death in the last six months alone. Lukashenka is a real maniac. He sees that his crimes remain unpunished. If he doesn't get a proper response soon, then unfortunately this will continue.

I urge the international community not to give some formal statements of “overwhelming concern”, but to act decisively to save lives.

For more than a year now there has been no information about political prisoner, leader of the Belarusian opposition Mikalai Statkevich.

He was sentenced to 13 years in prison, but he is serving his sentence under a special regime. I talked to many former prisoners, they say that more than five years of special regime is extremely difficult to endure. When this special regime alternates with permanent placement in a punishment cell and cell-type premises, it’s simply torture.

Do not forget that Mikalai Statkevich is already 67 years old. During his life he went through many trials. Due to the fact that no letters have been received from him for more than a year, a lawyer is not allowed to see him, there is a big question: is Mikalai Statkevich alive? Editor-in-Chief of the website Charter97.org Natallia Radzina already raised this issue several months ago, and I support her calls. Show us Mikalai Statkevich!

We expect drastic steps from the international community to break the back of the Lukashenka regime. In the situation with Statkevich, the deadline is literally days, he needs to be saved.

— Is there any news from the colony about your wife Palina?

— Let me start with the fact that the murdered leader of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny was placed in a punishment cell 27 times.

As of last autumn, Palina was placed in a punishment cell at least 32 times, and she spent almost six months in the cell-type premises. Moreover, the conditions in Belarusian prisons are much worse than in Russian ones.

Conditions in Belarusian punishment cells or cell-type premises are more reminiscent of conditions in Gulags or concentration camps. Palina clearly has serious health problems. All our demands to the colony for a medical examination were ignored. Unfortunately, there has been no news from Palina for two months.

We can say that Palina is repeating the fate of Alexei Navalny. Let me emphasize that there are 100 days left before the end of Palina’s next term. We all need to work for her to be released. For this, the pressure from the international community must be not in words, but in deeds.

The key to the well-being of Europe is the freedom of Belarus. When political prisoners are killed several tens of kilometers from Vilnius, what kind of security can we talk about?

Regarding the murder of Alexei Navalny, we see that dictators learn from each other. Navalny’s death is practically a repetition of the murder of Belarusians Vitold Ashurak and Ales Pushkin. First, the person is tormented by endless transportations, placement in punishment cells and cell-type premises, and then they either simply do not provide assistance, or help them die by poisoning. In this state, a body does not need much; a small influence is enough.

The events with Alexei and what is happening in Belarusian prisons are links in the same chain. The sanctions that are now being imposed against the Putin regime should be symmetrically introduced against Lukashenka. Otherwise there will be no sense in them.

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