USA demands immediate release of all political prisoners, the number of which has already reached 298; chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus is arrested
23 March 2021 | Voice of Belarus
The United States demand the immediate release of all political prisoners and supports the holding of new elections in Belarus by the end of the year
US State Department adviser Derek Chollet had a telephone conversation with Belarusian Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makei. The adviser pointed out the need to release all political prisoners in Belarus without exception, especially noting the case of Ihar Losik. The United States supports the proposal of the Belarusian opposition to start a dialogue with the authorities in order to hold free and fair elections under international supervision this year. The advisor and foreign minister also discussed the upcoming exchange of ambassadors between the United States and Belarus, noting that open communication lines would benefit both countries.
According to the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, Makei drew attention to the counter-productiveness of attempts to exert pressure on a sovereign state.
A pro-government rally was held near the US and Ukrainian embassies in Minsk today.
The US Embassy supported the right to free gathering of people and criticism of the United States and urged the authorities to extend these rights to all Belarusians, without police violence and detention.
There are more and more political prisoners in Belarus, and the sentences are disproportionate to the offenses
Viasna human rights center recognised ten more people as political prisoners. Now there are 298 people on the list of political prisoners. The center said in a statement that the duration and conditions of imprisonment for the sentences handed down to protesters are clearly disproportionate to the offenses and are of political nature.
Today the trial of the chairman of the United Civic Party and a member of the main body of the Coordination Council Mikalai Kazlou has begun. At the trial, Kazlou said that he did not feel well, he had high blood pressure. He had been held in a single cell with eight other people since the day before. Approximately 20 liters of concentrated bleach solution was poured onto the cell floor. During the trial break, Kazlou was taken to hospital.
The leader of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party (Hramada) Ihar Barysau was arrested for 15 days. His party is one of those who signed the application submitted to the Minsk City Executive Committee for the celebration of Freedom Day. Barysau was kidnapped from his car in front of his wife and four-year-old daughter. He did not resist.
Count Aliaksandr Prushynski, 86, was arrested for distributing Freedom Day leaflets in the centre of Minsk. Prushynski was kept at the police office for six hours. A protocol against him was drawn up and the police promised to take him to court.
Historian Yury Kuushynau was sentenced to 15 days detention for the “Pahonya” badge on his backpack.
Several Belarusians were arrested in St. Petersburg, among them Uladzimir Drahun, one of the most active representatives of the local diaspora. Belarusians of St. Petersburg take part in solidarity rallies with their compatriots almost on a daily basis.
In Minsk, disabled Yauhen Kurhanau was sentenced to two years in prison for showing curiosity and making loud claps with his hands.
Chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus is arrested
The chairman of the Union of Poles in Belarus, unrecognized by the official authorities, Andżelika Borys, was arrested and taken to the police office within an administrative case. She is being kept in custody pending trial.
The Polish Foreign Ministry summoned the Charge d’Affaires of the Republic of Belarus. He was informed that the actions of the Belarusian authorities contradict the international obligations of Belarus to protect national minorities and the bilateral Polish-Belarusian obligations to protect the Polish minority. About 290,000 Poles live in Belarus.