Imprisoned human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka refuses to file petition for pardon

Human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka. Photo:

Pro-Lukashenka activist Yury Vaskrasenski called on jailed human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka to file a petition for pardon, Euroradio reports.

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, Vaskrasenski started writing letters to political prisoners, urging them to ask Lukashenka for clemency.

“He suggested I write the petition until August 31. So far, I have opted for being tried. He did not attach any power of attorney from the one who issue a pardon. It is not ruled out that he [Vaskrasenski] is a provocator,” Sudalenka commented on the situation in a letter.

Belarusian authorities use pardons to save face, human rights defender claims

In early January, a nine-hour raid was carried out by Organised Crime Combating Department officers on human rights defenders’ office Homielskaya Vyasna. Computers, data storage devices, white-red-white flags and documents were seized. After the search, the officers took Sudalenka away for a ‘conversation’, but on that day, he was released.

On January 18, the local police arrested Leanid Sudalenka, human rights defender and chairman of the Homieĺ branch of the human rights centre Viasna, as well as volunteers Tatsyana Lasitsa and Maryia Tarasenka. They were charged under Art. 342 of the Criminal Code (organisation or active participation in group actions that grossly violate public order) and taken into custody (later, Tarasenka was released on her own recognizance).

“Leanid Sudalenka is a well-known human rights activist who has been defending human rights for 20 years, providing free legal assistance, including in preparing individual complaints to the UN Human Rights Committee on behalf of Belarusian nationals whose rights were violated by the government,” his colleagues say.

The start of the trial is scheduled for September, 3. The three defendants were recognised as political prisoners.

Number of political prisoners in Belarus reaches 645