Further arrests and acts of repression in Belarus: Lawyer Maxim Snak arrested; Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich harassed – Pressure on Minsk and Moscow must be raised and activists in danger allowed into Germany.
A statement by Dr. Ellen Ueberschär, President of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, on the ongoing wave of arrests and persecution of pro-democracy actors in Belarus:
“Last night and into this morning, the Lukashenko regime continued its massive wave of arrests targeting protesters across the entire country. According to reports in recent hours, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Svetlana Alexievich is currently suffering harassment at her home by several unknown persons. This morning, Maxim Snak, an opposition lawyer and one of only two senior members of the opposition still at liberty, was abducted from his office by a small group of unidentified, masked individuals and bundled into an unmarked van, according to eye-witness reports. His current whereabouts are unknown. At the same time, the Lukashenko government is stepping up its acts of repression, including administrative sanctions and fines targeting journalists, lawyers and athletes, dismissals of workers on strike and teachers and student deregistrations. By placing organised civil society under increased pressure, the regime is deliberately scuppering all attempts to institute a constructive, peaceful process of dialogue and continues its programme of attrition against the citizens.
In view of the regime’s well-known systematic mistreatment of detainees, we are deeply concerned about Svetlana Alexeivich and for the whereabouts of Maxim Snak, Maria Kolesnikova and the countless others arrested for political reasons in recent days. We urgently call for their immediate, unconditional release and for all those under exile to be allowed to return home. This appeal is aimed not only at officials in Minsk, but also their counterparts in Moscow: Lukashenko’s spiral of escalation would never have been possible without the ongoing support of Vladimir Putin.
The German government must now work with its EU partners and finally raise the pressure on Moscow to uncomfortable levels. This includes sanctions worthy of the name and a no-holds-barred debate about the gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2.
We particularly urge the government, in view of the severe situation of crisis and threat, immediately to launch a simplified visa and entry procedure for civil society activists in danger, to afford them protection from persecution and violence, quickly and non-bureaucratically”.
Read the original German version of this statement on boell.de.
Michael Alvarez Kalverkamp
Press Spokesperson International Cooperation
+49 (0)30 285 34-202