Belarus-2014: World Championship on number of political prisoners

On their way to Belarus hockey fans from all over the world can see reminders about Belarusian political prisoners, reports.

The billboards are placed in Poland not far from the border crossings Brest-Terespol and Bruzhi-Kuznica.

They display a picture of a hockey helmet entangled in barbed wire, and slogans ‘World Championship on Number of Political Prisoners. Belarus – 2014’ and ‘Don’t Play with the Dictator’.

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The campaign was initiated by civil initiative ‘Free Mikalai Statkevich and other political prisoners!’ The campaigners wanted to draw public attention to human rights violations in our country.

For three years indifferent politicians and activists have been demanding to remove the championship from the country that still has political prisoners, Maryna Adamovich, the wife of Mikalai Statkevich, says.

Such declarations as ‘Sport is beyond politics’ sound especially cynical after Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, after throwing dozens of Belarusian activists into prison, Maryna Adamovich stresses.

This feast is not for everyone. We want people to remember it,’ she says.


Mikalai Statkevich is the last 2010 presidential candidate to be in prison. The sentence given to Mr Statkevich in 2011 was one of the toughest: six years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony. The reason might be explained by the fact that in his election speech Mikalai Statkevich addressed to the current president demanding ‘to give back all that you have stolen’. The authorities are trying to embitter Statkevich’s life even in prison putting him to a disciplinary cell or making him share a ward with an AIDS sufferer. However, the former presidential candidate keeps mantaining his innocence and refuses to ask President Lukashenka for pardon.

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