Political prisoner’s father dies. Family urges authorities to let Pavel Sevyarynets say last goodbye

Kastus Sevyarynets died in hospital on Friday morning, his daughter, Belarusian educator Hanna Sevyarynets, said on Facebook.

In mid September, Kastus and Tatsyana, the parents of political prisoner Pavel Sevyarynets, fell ill with COVID-19. Today Kastus, a 69-year old journalist and author, has passed away in the intensive care unit of one of the hospitals in Vitsebsk.

According to the family, the deceased will be buried in his native village of Unorytsa (Rechytsa district). Meanwhile, Pavel’s Sevyarynets’ wife Volha has appealed to compatriots and the internation community, asking them to use all means and argue the Lukashenka regime into letting the political prisoner be present at the funeral.

Pavel Sevyarynets, a well-known activist and leader of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, has been behind bars for over a year. He was detained even before the elections – on 7 June 2020, when he was returning from a picket to collect signatures.

On May 25, Sevyarynets was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in a medium security penal colony for ‘organising mass riots’. The trial was held behind the closed doors. Even family members of the defendants were barred from entering the courtroom; according to the authorities, the materials of the cases are related to a secret ‘protected by law’. For this reason, their defence lawyers were obliged not to break the secrecy of the investigation; they could not disclose any details.

Notably, one can count on one hand the cases of the authorities’ allowing political prisoners to pay a last tribute to their departed relatives. Thus, Alyaksandr Kazulin, a former Rector of the Belarusian State University and Lukashenka’s strong opponent in the 2006 election, was released from prison for three days to attend the funeral of his wife Iryna. In 2011, officials gave political prisoner Dzmitry Dashkevich 30 minutes to say a last goodbye to his mother in the morgue in Slutsk.

However, the authorities barred entrepreneurs’ movement leader Valery Levaneuski, human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, TUT.By director Lyudmila Chekina, activists Alyaksandr Hrachyshnikau, Ales Malchanau, Yauhen Afnahel, Marfa Rabkova as well as other persons who were or are imprisoned for political reasons from seeing close relatives on their way.