In Sweden, a scandal erupted over deals with Belarusian authorities; British American Tobacco continues to sponsor the Lukashenko regime; what political prisoners write about in their letters
28 April 2021 | Voice of Belarus
In Sweden, a scandal erupted over deals with Belarusian authorities
Swedish television channel TV4 aired a journalistic investigation program about Sweden’s cooperation with Belarusian organizations. Sweden supported the EU trade sanctions against Belarus, but as it turned out, in late September the Swedish government suddenly decided to give the go-ahead for a billion-dollar deal with Belarusian state-owned enterprises. The Swedish Export Credit Agency has applied loan protection insurance on the deal between the Swedish company SIEMENS Energy AB and Belarusian state-owned enterprises Minskenergo and Brestenergo. As the deal got publicity, the Agency was forced to freeze it until further notice. The investigation was initiated by the activists from Belarusian diaspora in Sweden and the National Anti-Crisis Management headed by Pavel Latushka.
British American Tobacco sponsors the Lukashenko regime
Belarusians of London held a protest action next to the British American Tobacco (BAT) headquarters. BAT is the key partner of Neman Tobacco Factory, which is controlled by the state and Aliaksei Aleksin, one of the main “wallets” of the regime. BAT turns a blind eye to the human rights violations in Belarus in general and at the Neman factory in particular, as well as to the fact that the regime profits from smuggling the products to Europe.
Despite repeated appeals, BAT refuses to enter into dialogue with the democratic forces of Belarus.
Olympic silver medalist Andrei Krauchanka goes on a hunger strike
Andrei Krauchanka, Olympic silver medalist in decathlon, put his 2011 European Championship gold medal up for auction to help families of the political prisoners and went on a 10-day hunger strike.
“The thing that scares me is that arrests have become commonplace, routine. And there are real people behind bars right now – these are their real lives, these are broken lives of their families. Nobody will give them back this [lost] time, it will never be possible to make up for it. And I can’t come to terms with this,” wrote Krauchanka.
Krauchanka is one of the signees of the athletes’ letter against security forces’ violence and for the new presidential election. He has repeatedly participated in the street marches in 2020 and spent 10 days under arrest.
What political prisoners write about in their letters
As of now, there are 358 political prisoners in Belarus. Thousands of caring people write to them. In their response letters, political prisoners talk about their experiences and detention conditions. Many are not downhearted, but there are also those whose health is deteriorating while they are in prison on far-fetched charges.
Homel resident Aliaksei Ramanau was convicted on 16 December 2020 for allegedly “insulting the president”. Despite his cancer patient disability, he was sentenced to one year in prison. He is in great pain. A new tumor was found during a consultation with an oncologist. However, since Aliaksei was put under preventive supervision as a person prone to extremism, he can hardly hope for parole. “To be honest, I’m so tired of these pains, I’d rather die…” wrote Aliaksei.
Aliaksei Hubich, a 24-year-old musician from Homel, was sentenced to three years in prison. He has a rare eye condition that requires surgery. If the surgery is not performed on time, the disease will lead to blindness. The surgery was planned for fall 2020. “But now he is in jail. And he will go blind without treatment,” said Aliaksei’s mother.