1 June 2020
Mikalai Statkevich, leader of Narodnaya Gramada, our member party in Belarus, was sentenced this morning to 15 days in prison, following his arrest yesterday by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko.
Presidential elections in Belarus are due to be held on 9 August 2020 and Statkevich’s imprisonment follows the rejection of his registration days ago as a candidate to the presidency on the regime’s allegation that he has a criminal record due to his incarceration on the occasion of the 2010 elections.
Mikalai Statkevich was jailed in 2010 for taking part in peaceful pro-democracy protests regarding the conduct of the elections, in which he was a presidential candidate, and imprisoned for five years in very harsh conditions. Following his release, Statkevich continued actively engaged in his efforts for democracy in his country and has regularly taken part in meetings of the Socialist International, where he is Co-Chair of the SI Committee for the CIS, Caucasus and Black Sea, the last meeting of which was held in Belarus last November hosted by his party.
In the last days, the crackdown by the regime has intensified while peaceful rallies of the opposition have been held and a number of other pro-democracy activists have also been arrested.
The Socialist International calls on its members around the world to demand the immediate release of Mikalai Statkevich and others jailed these past days. Nothing but the holding of free and fair elections in Belarus is acceptable.