Poland’s FM mentions political prisoners in conversation with Belarus counterpart

At the initiative of the Polish side, Uladzimir Makey and Jacek Czaputowicz had a telephone conversation on Friday.

The Polish Foreign Minister ‘paid attention to the need to release political prisoners and highlighted Poland’s support for Belarus’ independence and development, which is conditional on a genuine dialogue between the government and society’, the country’s MFA said on Twitter.

In turn, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry has failed to report that the issue of political prisoners was touched upon during the talks.

“The Foreign Ministers discussed a wide range of issues related to the development of Belarusian-Polish cooperation, Belarusian and Polish proposals for the implementation of a number of regional initiatives. Uladzimir Makey informed his Polish colleague about preparations for the presidential election in the Republic of Belarus,” the statement reads.

The 2020 presidential voting is to take place on August, 9. Since the beginning of the election campaign, incumbent president Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s would be rival Viktar Babaryka, might-have been opponent Syarhei Tsikhanouski, politicians Mikalai Statkevich and Pavel Sevyarynets, as well as dozens of people have been placed into custody. In late June, the Belarusian Interior Ministry also launched a probe into ‘illegal activities’ in which presidential hopeful Valery Tsapkala was allegedly involved.

According to Belarusian human right watchdogs, about 190 people have been arrested for a total of 2,607 days under administrative code articles used for political persecution. As many as 333 people have been fined for more than 265,275 rubles (more than $110,000). Human rights defenders also report at least 1,140 cases of arbitrary detentions that took place between 6 May and 20 July.

According to human rights centre Viasna, there are 24 political prisoners in Belarus.

No water, no sleep, no air. What is it like to be a political prisoner in Belarus?