Thursday, April 17, 2014


News / From Our Bureaus

Wives Say Jailed Belarusian Opposition Activists' Lives Endangered

Three wives of Belarusian political prisoners held a press conference to discuss their husbands plight: Iryna Khalip (left), Matyna Adamovich (center), Volha Bandarenka (right).
Three wives of Belarusian political prisoners held a press conference to discuss their husbands plight: Iryna Khalip (left), Matyna Adamovich (center), Volha Bandarenka (right).
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MINSK -- The wives and fiancee of three jailed Belarusian opposition politicians say their lives are at risk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The three women told journalists in Minsk on November 1 that they are urging the European Union "not to lessen pressure on Belarus, as there is no liberalization, but actually a humanitarian catastrophe" in the country.

Iryna Khalip, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, said her husband has been transferred to so-called "closed regime premises" (PKT) where he is sharing a cell with a tuberculosis patient.

"Andrey is currently in PKT, he has been refused a one-on-one meeting with his lawyer," she said. "He was warned that he might spend many days in transfer trains again if any reports about his current ordeal appear in the media. The situation is getting worse, as the prison authorities are trying to force him to ask for clemency."

Khalip also addressed President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, saying: "Everybody knows you are keeping our husbands in jail because you are afraid of them. Be a man, prove that you are not afraid of them and release them."

Maryna Adamovich, the fiancee of former presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich, said he phoned her recently and said that "anything can happen to me, because I will never sign any letter asking for clemency from President Lukashenka."

"For four months, the penitentiary administration has been rejecting our requests to let us marry. They keep saying that we are not related and therefore I have no right to visit him and represent his interests," Adamovich said.

Volha Bandarenka, the wife of Zmitser Bandarenka, who was Sannikau's official representative during the presidential election in December, told journalists on November 1 that her husband is very sick and has been transferred to a quarantine ward within the penitentiary.

She said she has not received letters from him for a long time and considers that part of the pressure exerted on political prisoners in Belarus.

Sannikau, Statkevich, and Bandarenka were found guilty of organizing and/or taking part in the mass protests that broke out in Minsk in December following the controversial announcement of Lukashenka's reelection for another presidential term. Opposition activists said the election was fixed.

Sannikau and Statkevich were jailed in May for five and six years, respectively. Bandarenka was sentenced in April to two years in jail.

Read more and watch video coverage in Belarusian here
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