A solidarity marathon with Fr. Uladzislau Lazar has started in Minsk.
The State Security Committee (KGB) arrested the Roman Catholic priest as early as summer, 2013. He was accused under Part One of the Criminal Code’s Article 356, which penalizes high treason: later his acts were qualified as complicity in a crime, in particular handing over money to a suspect of espionage.
‘It is nonsense, this must not happen! He is innocence for real, he is very fair and strong man. Of course, we are distressed for him and will do our best to further his release,’ Hanna Shaputska, an activist of movement For Freedom, said.
Being on the rocks, Fr. Lazar’s family can’t afford paying legal bills. Representatives of different religious confessions appeared at the event.
In cases of conflicts with the authorities priests who come from abroad may count on diplomatic assistance. As priest Lazar is a citizen of Belarus his one recourse is the Holy See.
‘A lawyer working for our archdiocese has regular meetings with him. I know that our metropolitan visited his relatives, mother and sister, and talked to them. The case has been under our control since the very beginning,’ Father Yury Sanko said.
But democratic activists believe such acts will not save the arrested priest. According to the organisers of the marathon, further stay in the KGB predetention centre will harm Fr. Lazar’s health and even menace his life. Recognising as a political prisoner could provide him necessary support.
‘Unfortunately, as he is not considered as a political prisoner, our human rights groups are not able to help him. But our society does fold him as a prisoner of conscience expressing confidence that this man should be internationally recognised as a political prisoner,’ Hanna Shaputska stressed.
Father Uladzislau Lazar denies accusations of espionage.