Minsk: Priests vouch for political prisoner, mother of five Volha Zalatar

Volha Zalatar together with her family. Photo: spring96.org

Two Roman Catholic priests are are standing surety for Volha Zalatar, the mother of a large family; in the corresponding letter, the have urged the Belarusian authorities to release her from prison.

Fr Alyaksandr Faminykh, the senior priest of the parish to which Volha belongs, is one of the signers. In addition, two petitions were filed to the Belarusian Investigative Committee; a total of about 70 Roman Catholic priests called on the investigators to stop criminal prosecution of Volha Zalatar, priest Vyachaslau Barok said.

The political prisoner submitted three written appeals, asking for permission to see her priest, but they were turned down, because Volha ‘refused to cooperate with the investigation’, the authorities say.

Volha’s mother, Yanina Zalatar, keeps trying to hand over a prayer book to her daughter, but still in vain. She thanks everyone who prays for Volha and hopes that soon she will be free, Christian Vision reports.

Mother of five prosecuted for organizing protests

Volha Zalatar is a 38-year-old mother of five. She was detained on March 18 when she was taking her daughter to a music school. The law enforcers stopped her car and took her home to conduct a search. After the search Volha was first taken to the local police station, then she was placed in temporary detention, and the next day she was taken to detention centre Nr 1 in Minsk.

In early April, her defence lawyer Andrey Machalau said that after detention his client was tortured by officers of the Main Directorate for Combating Organised Crime and Corruption (GUBAZiK/GUBOPiK).

“At first they beat her on the head with their hands, then started strangling her, threw her on the ground and started pressing her head with a boot to the floor. I personally saw bruises on her arms and neck and bruises on her buttocks,” the lawyer said.

Volha Zalatar was accused under Part 1 Article 361 of the Criminal Code: (‘establishment of an extremist formation’). Volha did not admit her guilt. She believes that she was charged with an absurd crime. On April 2, the Belarusian human rights community recognised her as a political prisoner.

Mother of five tortured by police