Husband of political prisoner Palina Sharenda: ‘Inmates are tortured in women's penal colony in Homiel’

Аndrey Sharenda and two sons.
Photo: Belsat

Political prisoner Palina Sharenda-Panasyuk is in punitive isolation ward yet again. Her husband Andrey Sharenda claims that not only his wife but other women are being tortured in Homiel-based colony Nr 4.

Since September 27, Palina has been in a disciplinary cell again. It is the third time that they have placed her there over the past month. In September alone, she has spent 20 days there. Now she has been given another 10 days in punitive confinement for allegedly keeping her hands in her pockets,” Andrey Sharenda told Belsat.

Women’s penal colony Nr 4 Homiel, 8 April 2021.
Photo: АВ / Belsat

The fourth report has been drawn upon Palina for allegedly violating the prison rules; it is highly likely that she will be put in a so-called cell-type room after being isolated.

Natallia Hersche and Volha Klaskouskaya have already gone through such a trial; after three stays in the isolation ward, they were transferred to a cell-type room for three months,” Palina’s husband.

According to Andrey Sharenda, the authorities’s actions are nothing but mistreating his wife and taking revenge on her for her civic-mindedness and the fact that she does not recognise them.

On behalf of the relatives of those serving terms in the Homel colony, I want to say that people are tortured there, political prisoners are tortured there. For example, Natallia Hersche stated that she was glad to be transferred from the Homiel colony to a closed prison. She says that one cannot imagine the confinement conditions that woould be worse than those in colony Nr 4. And let’s recall what is happening to Volha Klaskouskaya who suffers from diseases but receives no help, what is happening to my wife Palina who was placed in inhumane conditions from the beginning is. She is being tortured, and the name of the person responsible for these tortures in the centre of Europe is Dzyanis Talstsyankou, director of penal colony Nr 4,” Sharenda stressed.

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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’).

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 appeared to have been a reason for her being placed in a punishment cell.

In January 2021, 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.

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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 was 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 was 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 had to leave the country along with the sons.

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