Brest activist Andrey Sharenda has received a letter from his wife, political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk. She is serving her term in the women’s penal colony in Homiel.
Andrey had not had any news from Palina for about a month.
Upon her arrival at the colony, Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk was twice offered to file a petition for pardon to Alyaksandr Lukashenka. The prisoner’s refusal appears to have been a reason for her being placed in a punishment cell.
“The quarantine period did not even expire when they [prison authorities] gave that ‘pardon petition’ to her. The papers were immediately trashed, and the errand persons were told to go to hell. Ten days later, the situation recurred; the result was the same. In total, Palina spent twenty days in a solitary confinement cell, but she continues to hold her ground. She urges all of us to be persistent and self-confident, and keep on going in the finishing straight!” Andrey Sharenda said on Facebook.
As reported earlier, it is the pro-Lukashenka activist Yury Vaskrasenski who keeps sending letters to political prisoners, urging them to ask Lukashenka for clemency. In the summer of 2020, Yury Vaskrasenski was a member of the initiative group for collecting signatures for the wannabe presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka. Amid post-election protests, he was arrested; however, in October, Vaskrasenski was released from custody the next day after Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to the KGB pre-trial detention centre. Soon after the release, he apparently changed sides.
On June 9, Maskouski district court passed a verdict in the case of Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk. 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.
In turn, 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.
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 and Palina are parents to two minor kids (11 and 4 years old).In early July, Andrey Sharenda left the country along with the sons.