Poland: “Any success in the fight against populism should not make us complacent”
“For years I believed that our greatest success was that we, the pro-democratic forces in Poland, managed to lead our country, as the first in the socialist bloc, along the path of peaceful transformation from socialism to liberal democracy. And also that we managed, relatively efficiently and quickly, to build a stable system of a democratic rule of law in the country. For some years now, this belief of mine has been put to a very difficult test.”
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Volha Harbunova
Volha Harbunova is a Belarusian woman human rights defender, psychologist, and former head of the non-governmental organisation Radislava, which offers support to women who face domestic and gender-based violence. Harbunova was arrested on 9 November 2021 on suspicion of organising all-women marches in 2020.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Viktar Pantsaleeu
Viktar Pantsaleeu was detained on 18 August 2020 in the framework of a criminal case relating to “mass riots” that allegedly took place in Brest on 10 August, the same day that Aliaksandr Lukashenka was returned to power in elections that are widely deemed to have been undemocratic.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Yauheni Rubashko
Yauheni Rubashko, known to his friends as “Zhenya”, was detained in Minsk on 29 July 2021. His apartment was searched and he was beaten at the time. He was subsequently transferred to the pre-trial detention centre and charged with “group actions grossly violating public order”. Yauheni is one of three anarchists, together with Aliaksandar Bialou and Artyom Salavey, who are accused of participating in the “extremist formation” Pramen, a well-known anarchist group in Belarus. They are facing up to six years in prison.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Anastasya Mirontsava
Anastasya Mirontsava is a 25-year-old student and artist. She has been behind bars since 16 October 2020, when she was detained for having participated in the protests on the day of the presidential election, 10 August 2020. At her trial on 31 March 2021, she implored the court not to deprive her of her freedom any longer.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Rastsislau Stefanovich
Rastsislau Stefanovich is a 33-year-old designer and architect. He is married to Christina, with whom he has two children Nicole, who is eight, and Mark, who is six. As well as being an artist (see his drawings below), he is also a defender with the Minsk Zubrs American football team. In August 2020, he became a member of the expanded Coordination Council for the Transfer of Power, which was set up on the initiative of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to facilitate the democratic transfer of power in Belarus. There are about 5500 members of the expanded Coordination Council.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Maria Kalenik
Maria Kalenik is a 23-year-old student of the Belarusian State Academy of Arts. She was detained on 12 November 2020, accused of organising and participating in group actions that gravely violate public order. Her apartment was searched, and she was held in the KGB pre-trial prison. On 16 July 2021, she was sentenced to two years and six months in prison in a case known as “the student case”, which involved 12 defendants. Ksenia Syramalot, whose letter was previously published, was one of her co-defendants in the case.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Seviarynets
Pavel Seviarynets is a writer, an opposition politician, co-founder of the Belarusian Christian Democracy party. He was detained on 7 June 2020 and held in pre-trial detention for several months before being charged with organising mass riots. In May 2021, he was sentenced to seven years in a penal colony. He is serving his sentence in Shklov in eastern Belarus.
Letters from Lukashenka’s Prisoners: Pavel Mazko
Pavel Mazko is a 19-year-old from Brest in south-western Belarus. He has been in pre-trial detention since 23 March 2021, charged in connection to his participation in the post-election protests in August 2020.