Irina Khalip: I did not recognise Sannikov

On 18 August the journalist Irina Khalip visited her husband, the presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, at the prison in Novopolatsk.

Irina Khalip told the newspaper “Nasha Niva” how the visit had gone.

“I did not recognize him. My first thought was that the administration of the prison had taken me to some other man. He was shaven – without a beard or moustache, and he had a bald head. He looks like Bruce Willis,” said Irina Khalip. “Sannikov said that for a while he went about with his head shaved, but with a beard. When he noticed that he resembled Shamil Basayev, he decided to shave off the beard as well. According to the journalist, she never saw her husband looking like that. Andrei Sannikov had to wave his hand to his wife in order for her to recognize him.

The meeting lasted about two hours. The journalist noted that the conditions for meetings in the colony were similar to those in Volodarskii Street – booth, telephone, glass. The only difference is that there are a lot more booths.

Sannikov, the former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, is working on the production of corrugated cardboard boxes. This production is of bad for health; Andrei Olegovich has a bad cough. But, he said, everyone coughs here, as the environment is extremely bad. Next to their team, they boil soap and manufacture polyethylene.

Conditions in the colony are quite severe. A person can get put in the punishment cell for accidentally having a button undone on his tunic.

During the conversation they touched upon the release of nine political prisoners. According to Irina Khalip, Sannikov knows people who refused to sign papers of repentance and send them to Lukashenko; he also knows of those who have signed, but have remained in captivity. He did not cite their names, so as not to expose anyone.

Let us remind you that on 14 May 2011, the Partizanskii District Court sentenced the presidential candidate, Andrei Sannikov, to 5 years of imprisonment, to be served in a “strict regime” colony.

On 16 May 2011, Irina Khalip was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment, but suspended for two years.

It is possible to write to the political prisoner: Republic of Belarus, 211445, Vitebskaya Oblast, Novopolotsk-5, IK-10, 3rd Otrad, Sannikov Andrei Olegovich.