14 December 2021
Mikalai Statkevich, chair of the SI member party Narodnaya Hramada, NH, and co-chair of the SI Committee for the CIS, Caucasus and Black Sea, has been sentenced today to 14 years in prison in Belarus following a sham trial behind closed doors. Throughout the 565 days he has spent in detention, Statkevich has had no access to legal representation or defence and he has been denied all contact with his family, as the illegitimate regime of Alexander Lukashenko continues its determination to suppress all democratic forces in the country.
Along with Statkevich, five other political prisoners were also sentenced today: blogger Siarhei Tsikhanouski, who had intended to run as a presidential candidate against Lukashenko, sentenced to 18 years; Ihar Losik, a media consultant for Radio Liberty, sentenced to 15 years; Uladzimir Tsyganovich, a blogger, sentenced to 15 years; Artsyom Sakau, who ran a YouTube channel Country for Life, sentenced to 16 years; and Dmitry Popov, a moderator for Country for Life, sentenced to 16 years.
Previously, other members of Narodnaya Hramada have also been tried without due process, among them the secretary general of the party, Sergei Sparish, who has received a six-year sentence, and activist Andrei Khrenkov, condemned to five years’ imprisonment.
The Socialist International vigorously protests against this outrageous political persecution and repression and calls for international condemnation of this sentencing. Lukashenko must be held accountable, and the SI reiterates its previous call for action to be taken in support of all those who have sacrificed their freedom for the cause of democracy in Belarus.
Mikalai Statkevich, who has worked tirelessly at great personal risk to bring change and democracy to Belarus, has so far been held in isolation for 565 days, and previously he served five years in prison for running as a presidential candidate against Lukashenko in 2010. The Socialist International will never cease in calling for freedom for Mikalai Statkevich and for all political prisoners in the country, and for full respect for the freedoms and rights of all the people of Belarus.