Belarus’ political prisoners

Central Europe News Brief: May 2012

Andrey Sannikov, a former opposition candidate for Belarus’ presidency, and his campaign manager, Dzmitry Bandarenka, were released on 14 Apr. after 16 months in prison on what the European Union (EU) believes were political charges, European Voice reported.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, stated in a press release that the two men had been held on “political grounds”, and demanded that another 10 inmates considered to be political prisoners be released “unconditionally”.

Sannikov said that his release was “the result of the actions of the European Union,” referring to the mounting sactions imposed by the bloc on Belarus, including an asset-freeze on companies and organisations close to the government and the barring of 212 Belarusian officials from entering the EU.

Sannikov and Bandarenka were jailed on charges of organising “mass disturbances” in protests following 2010 presidential elections, which returned Belarus’ autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko to power but were considered undemocratic by observers.

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