Civil campaign “European Belarus” was set in motion in 2008. Andrei Sannikov, Mikhail Marinich, Micola Statkevich and Victor Ivashevich took the lead in the campaign, and soon their initiative was supported by many youth leaders.
Since the beginning of 2008, activists of “European Belarus” have conducted hundreds of street protests, pickets, performances, flash-mobs in dozens of Belarussian cities, distributed millions of leaflets, placards, stickers, booklets with the logo of “European Belarus” and reasoning of the need for Belarus to enter the EU and to implement sweeping democratic reforms.
Dozens of thousands of signatures for joining the EU have been collected. During this time hundreds of participants of campaign, many of them repeatedly, were subjected to violence, arrests and fines from government’s side. Several people were prosecuted and became prisoners of conscience after the “Case of 14”.
Many people lost their jobs and were expelled from educational establishments. Leaders of “European Belarus” started campaign of solidarity with Belarus, telling the world about the necessity of releasing all Belarussian political prisoners, conducting free elections, and desire of Belarussians to become a part of European family.
Representatives of “European Belarus” act in all the big cities of the country, cooperating with other civil campaigns, NGOs and independent trade unions.
Andrei Sannikov, one of the coordinators of campaign, participated in presidential elections in Belarus in 2010. After the end of elections on December 19th, 2010 during crackdown of peaceful manifestation against election rigging coordinators of “European Belarus” (presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, his campaign chief Vladimir Kobets, his proxy and close associate Dmitry Bondarenko, spokesman of “European Belarus” Alexander Otroshenkov and others) were detained and put in KBG pretrial detention center.
Later they, as well as members of other campaign offices, were accused under parts 1 and 2 of article 293 PC – “organization and conduct of mass disorders, accompanied by violence, riotous damage, property destruction and armed resistance to public agents.” These articles carry a punishment of 4 to 15 years' imprisonment.
Andrei Sannikov was sentenced to 5, Dmitry Bondarenko to 2, Alexander Otroshenkov to 4 years in prison; Vladimir Kobets, released in his own custody, managed to leave the country and make an announcement about confinement conditions and attempts of recruitment.
Many activists of “European Belarus” were detained and sentenced to different terms of administrative arrest. Some of them managed to escape arrest, leaving abroad.
Central and many regional offices of the organization were smashed up by KGB agents, office machines and equipment including informing materials, logos of the organization and European Union were irretrievably confiscated.
In 2011 representatives of “European Belarus” were registered in Poland and Lithuania. They are busy spreading truthful information about events, happening in our country.
Despite repressions and squeeze, the campaign continues to act within Belarus. Its main goals today are to achieve the release for prisoners of conscience, to hold free democratic elections and to obtain EU membership for our country.