Political prisoner, father of two Andrey Sharenda flees Belarus

Brest resident Andrey Sharenda, who was charged under two criminal articles, has left the country, human rights centere Viasna reports. A few weeks ago, his wife, local activist Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk, was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment.

Andrey and Palina are parents to two minor kids (11 and 4 years old).

On June 28, Andrey Sharenda did not appear before court; he was expected to be tried on that day. On the back of the activist’s absence, judge Vera Filonik put him on the wanted list.

Andrey Sharenda is accused of slander of the president of Belarus (Article 367 of the Criminal Code). The maximum penalty under this article is five years of imprisonment. He is also charged under Art. 368 (‘calls for actions that harm the national security’). The man was placed under house arrest on May 31; the Belarusian human rights community recognised him as a political prisoner.

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On June 9, Maskouski district court passed a verdict in the case of Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk, whoc is also a prisoner of conscience. The woman was arrested in her own apartment five months ago. She was charged under three articles of the Criminal Code: Art. 368 (‘insulting president’), Art. 369 (‘insulting a representative of the authorities’) and Art. 364 (‘violence or threat of violence against a police officer’).

On January 3, the police knocked down the door, raided Sharendas’ place and seized a number of things. At that moment, Andrey was serving a term for participating in a protest rally in November; Palina was detained and taken to the remand prison in handcuffs.

In late February, Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk was taken to the so-called Navinki from the local detention facility on February, 23. According to her husband, she was forced to undergo a forensic psychiatric examination at the Republican Scientific and Practical Centre for Mental Health in Navinki residential area in Minsk.

In March, she managed to pass a letter from pre-trial detention centre Nr 7, in which she wrote about prisoners’ putting to torture.

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