A court in Minsk today gave suspended multiple-year prison sentences to former presidential candidates Neklyayev and Rymashevsky, as well as four opposition acitivists. Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy, made the following statement today (20 May):
“These sentences are not based on rule-of-law principles, but on political considerations. Belarus is thereby continuing to ignore democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. The Lukashenko regime is thus further isolating itself in Europe.
I call for the annulment of all politically-motivated judgements, and for an end to repression against regime critics and independent media. All political prisoners must be released and rehabilitated.
Germany continues to stand firmly by those who are campaigning for democracy and freedom.”
Vladimir Neklyayev, Vitaly Rymashevsky, and four other prominent opposition figures – Andrey Dmitriev, Alexander Feduta, Sergei Voznyak, and Anastasiya Polozhanko – were found guilty of “organizing mass disturbances of public order” and handed suspended sentences of one or more years, with strict controls and/or rules of conduct.
Along with ten thousands of Belarusian citizens, the convicted persons exercised their rights to liberty on the evening of the day of the presidential vote, 19 December 2010, by demonstrating against the course of elections. They were among the more than 700 opposition activists arrested following these protests.
Last Saturday, former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.