Charter’97 coordinator refusing to go to Prague

One of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition Andrei Sannikov thinks invitation of the Belarusian dictator for the EU summit amid mass political repressions in the country was “a grave mistake”.

A. Sannikov, international coordinator of Charter’97, coordinator of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, said:

“On April 14, I received an invitation for the events connected with the EU summit in Prague on the Eastern Partnership program.

Standing for Belarus’s integration into the EU, for full participation of the country in the Eastern Partnership program, nevertheless, I find it impossible to come to Prague during the summit.

Political prisoners Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, Uladzimir Asipenka are in Lukashenka’s prisons today. Mikalai Autukhovich has been on hunger strike for more than a week demanding conducting an open trial. Political repressions go on in our country, many Belarusians had to emigrate due to political persecution, the authorities refuse to register political parties and NGOs, peaceful demonstrations are brutally dispersed and banned, we have no even minimal freedom of speech, youth activists are unlawfully drafted for military service. The authorities don’t investigate the cases of the kidnapped opposition leaders and a journalist, thought the international community suspects them of involvement to these crimes. I think an invitation of dictator Lukashenka to Prague when demands to release political prisoners and stop political repressions weren’t fulfilled was a great mistake.

That’s why I took a decision not to go to Prague.

On May 7, on the day of the summit of the EU and participant of the Eastern Partnership program, ten years will have passed since former interior minister Yury Zakharanka, one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, disappeared tragically. I think the Belarusians should go to October square in Minsk on this day and demand release of political prisoners and investigation of the cases of the disappeared. I believe our friends from all over the world, including the Czech Republic, will show their solidarity with a democratic Belarus.”