Speaking in Rostock, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the lengthy prison sentences passed today (14 May) in Minsk on former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and four young opposition activists.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the sentences passed on Andrei Sannikov and other opposition activists. The purpose of these trials was not to administer justice but to execute the political will of President Lukashenko.
The German Government calls for the immediate review of all politically motivated verdicts. All political prisoners must be released. People in Belarus are entitled like everyone else to a life of freedom and dignity.
Germany stands by those who champion democracy and freedom.”
At the end of a political trial, a Minsk court today found Andrei Sannikov guilty of organizing “mass disturbances” and sentenced him to a five-year prison term. Four other defendants were sentenced to terms of up to 3 1/2 years.
On 19 December 2010, the day of the presidential elections, Andrei Sannikov had exercised his civil rights like tens of thousands of other Belarusian citizens and attended an evening rally to protest against the way the poll had been conducted. He is one of five former presidential candidates to be detained after the protests against the rigged elections in December 2010.