OSCE PA welcomes release of political prisoner, concerned about the fate of others still behind bars

COPENHAGEN, 27 September 2012 – The OSCE PA today welcomed the release of political prisoner Siarhei Kavalenka of the Conservative Christian Party Belarusian Popular Front.

The release follows Kavalenka's plea for pardon, made several weeks ago to the President of Belarus.

"We welcome the news of Kavalenka's release but remain strongly concerned about the fate of others still serving harsh sentences, like Ales Bialiatski and Zmitser Dashkevich – whose increasingly tough prison conditions are of grave concern," said Matteo Mecacci (Italy), chair of the OSCE PA Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, who recently led the OSCE short-term election observer mission in Belarus.

Representatives of the Holy See in Belarus were also granted permission to visit several political prisoners this week. This is the first visit of diplomatic corps in Belarus to prisoners since the December 2010 crackdown and subsequent arrests. Previous requests to visit political prisoners made by the OSCE PA and the diplomatic community in Belarus have not been granted.

"We hope that this is an indication of some progress," Mecacci said. "We hope that the release of these prisoners and the allowance for other political prisoners to receive visits from the international community will extend to the others who remain behind bars, convicted on politically-motivated charges."

"What is valid for Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine, is valid for Zmitser Dashkevich in Belarus," said OSCEPA President Riccardo Migliori, who visited Minsk earlier this month. "We reiterate our request that authorities release and exonerate all those detained and sentenced for their political work in Belarus since 2010."

Siarhei Kavalenka, a political activist of the Conservative Christian Party - Belarusian Popular

Front, was sentenced to two years in prison in February for a "violation of the regime of personal restraint." Kavalenka's case attracted international attention amid his lengthy hunger strike in prison. In 2010 he received a three-year conviction for "violating the public order" by hanging the white-red-white flag on a Christmas tree in the town of Vitebsk.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

  • Facebook
  • twir
  • in
  • inst
  • two
  • video