When the imprisoned politician Pavel Sevyarynets was informed of the death of his father, Belarusian author and translator Kanstantsin Sevyarynets, he was allowed to phone his mother, but he was barred from being present at the funeral, his wife Volha said on Facebook.
“We anticipated that Pavel would most likely not be released, but we had no other choice but to try. We appealed to Christian hierarchs, some of them immediately responded and tried to help, other said they could not help. I know that friends were writing petitions to the colony, asking them to let Pasha go [to the funeral]. I know that a number of diplomats spoke up for him. We are very grateful to everyone. We did what we could. On Friday afternoon Pasha was told that his father died; he was immediately let to call his mother. He filed an application to leave [for a few days]; in theory, a prisoner has such an opportunity, but he was not given permission. According to the colony authorities, he was sentenced under a ‘grave’. Pasha is in low spirits now. I will be grateful if you can show your support, writting letters to him. Thank you all for your support. We miss our Kanstantsin Paulavich very much. May he rest in pease,” she wrote.
In mid September, Kastus and Tatsyana, the parents of Pavel Sevyarynets, fell ill with COVID-19. On October 1, 69-year-old Kastus Sevyarynets passed away in the intensive care unit of one of the hospitals in Vitsebsk.
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.