Independent journalist and privately a wife of a dissident Andrei Sannikov, who was sentenced to five years in a prison camp, expressed her concern with the EU’s lack of initiative on the issue of political prisoners in Belarus.
“It seems like they [the EU officials] were very grateful for the letter written by the Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs, where it was stated that Lukashenka would release everyone by the early October. But the date went by and no one has mentioned the political prisoners” – Khalip told Belsat. She commented on letter that Bulgarian MFA, Mikolaj Mladenov wrote after a meeting with Lukashenka. The Belarusian president allegedly promised to release all the political prisoners and will hold round table talks with the opposition.
Sannikov is currently held in a prison camp in Babruysk, is isolation from other prisoners, which is an additional punishment. The dissident has complained about his health. “He wrote that due to the cold temperature, he has been suffering from problems with his joints”. – said Ms. Khalip.
In her opinion, it is extremely important that the western countries exert pressure on authorities in Minsk and stress their opposition to holding political prisoners. The journalist also reminded that Ales Bialiatski’s trial should start soon. The human rights defender is accused of tax evasion. “The first anniversary of presidential election is soon, we need to exert pressure and make the last effort to make sure political prisoners are released” – she added.
Two former presidential candidates are still held in prisons: Andrei Sannikov and Mikolaj Statkievich sentenced to respectively five and five and a half years in prison. A close coworker of Sannikov, Zmitser Bandarenka is serving a two-year sentence. Biliatski is still awaiting this trial. The remaining political prisoners have been pardoned by Lukashenka.