Ex-presidential candidate urges OSCE to do its utmost to secure release of political prisoners (video)

On February 13 Andrey Sannikau urged the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to do its utmost to secure the release of Belarus’ political prisoners.

Speaking at a session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Vienna, Mr Sannikau said that he had met many people imprisoned for standing up for their rights in Belarus, and stressed that Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s opponents recognized by the international community as political prisoners were only the “visible tip of the iceberg.”

(Sannikau’s speech starst at 58:58)

{movie}Andrey Sannikau speaks at a session of OSCE PA|right|14816{/movie}

Touching on a debate on the definition of a political prisoner, the opposition politician called for caution “with all kinds of definitions and criteria” in a “dictatorial situation like in Belarus.” He referred to the case of dissident Mikalay Autukhovich, who he said was not initially declared a political prisoner because he had been charged with terrorism, and attacked German law expert Martin Fincke who, after examining the criminal case at the request of the OSCE Office in Minsk, concluded that it was not politically motivated. The terrorism charge against Mr Autukhovich was later dropped and he was sentenced to more than five years in prison over five hunting rifle cartridges found at his home.

The politician questioned the use of the term “rule of law” in dealing with dictatorial regimes, explaining that such regimes invented their own laws and claimed to be following them instead of being guided by international law.


In May 2011 Andrey Sannikau, a former Deputy Foreign Minister, 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. In October, 2013 he seeked and received political asylum in Great Britain.

www.belsat.eu/en, following BelaPAN

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