On 24 February, Belarusian activist Andrey Kovalenko was sentenced in Vitebsk to two years and one month in prison. He had been arrested and indicted on 22 December on the trumped-up charge of having breached the terms of his probation.
The Federal Government’s Human Rights Commissioner Markus Löning issued the following statement on this matter today (27 February):
“I utterly condemn the politically motivated conviction of Andrey Kovalenko and demand his immediate release, as well as that of all other political prisoners in Belarus. Their immediate release and rehabilitation is overdue. We stand shoulder to shoulder with those who fight for freedom and human rights in Belarus. The ongoing repression of these people must end.”
Andrey Kovalenko is an activist of the Belarusian Popular Front, a conservative Christian party. He received a probationary sentence on 14 May 2010 for hoisting the Belarusian opposition’s flag at the Vitebsk Christmas market.
After his probation had been withdrawn on 22 December 2011, he went on a hunger strike and was force-fed for a period of time. Several sources report that he is fully aware of the risk to his health.