Andrey Sannikau granted political asylum in Great Britain
Iryna Khalip, the ex-presidential candidate’s wife, has backed up the information provided by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Earlier RFE/RL got in touch with Sannikau’s sister Iryna Bahdanava. The woman confirmed that the brother is at her place in London but refused to comment on his claiming political asylum. “I do not want to talk about such things,” she said.
A bit later Andrey Sannikau put his action down to a threat of re-arrest. “This has been a tough decision for me. But believe me, there was no alternative: either to be tortured and humiliated in prison again, or to stay there as quiet as the grave. I have been and remain a Belarusian politician. I will keep getting the the truth about my country [across the world – Belsat] and strive for specific measures to be taken to help democratic Belarus. I believe that my decision will help release my wife and son, who are hostages of the Lukashenka regime,” the politician said in an interview to charter97.org.
In May 2011 Andrey Sannikau was sentenced to five years of imprisonment in a medium-security penal colony for mass riot organisation after the 2010 presidential elections. Having filed a petition for pardon to Lukashenka in November, 2011 he was released only on April 14, 2012.
His wife, independent journalist Iryna Khalip, was sentenced to two years of imprisonment with suspended execution of the sentence. She is forbidden to leave Minsk without her police insection’s special permit. However, Aliaksandr Lukashenka promised to release her giving an interview to Evgeniy Levedev, the Russian oligarch’s son and proprietor of the British newspaper “Evening Standard”. But there was nothing to rejoice over: when asked whether Lukashenka’s declaration would shape Iryna Khalip’s future a district penal body’s officers stressed that they should act in accordance with court orders, not with anyone’s words.