Iryna Khalip: Sannikov and Dashkevich can be murdered in prison


Lives of the Belarusian political prisoners who are staying in prison are in danger.

Today Iryna Khalip, the wife of the presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, and a human rights activist Alena Tankachova, have expressed their concern over health and lives of Andrei Sannikov and Zmitser Dashkevich. Threats to kill or to maim have been heard by the both political prisoners during transfers to other prisons, Radio Svaboda informs.

Iryna Khalip had conversations with lawyers of Andrei Sannikov right after they met her husband on Monday and Tuesday in Mahilyou remand prison.

“The situation is the following: I can say definitely that his life is in grave danger. The life of the Young Front leader Zmitser Dashkevich is in grave danger as well. The latest news received by Andrei’s lawyer who visited him at the remand prison of Mahilyou is his message: “Save Dashkevich by all means, even if you have to write petitions for pardon by the entire Belarusian nation. Otherwise he has no chances to survive,” the journalist told.

During prison transfer which started on September 20 and still continues, Andrei Sannikov got into the same cell with Dashkevich. Another prisoner from that cell, Davydovich, said to Dashkevich that he would face great problems in the prison in Hlybokae (Glubokoe), and that most likely he is to be murdered there.

“One and the only piece of good news is that Dashkevich has stopped hunger strike. My husband, Andrei, has told that Dashkevich is in terrible condition, he is extremely thin, he had no food as he had been deprived of the right to get food parcels in Horki penal colony,” Iryna Khalip said.

As Iryna Khalip told, later analogous threats directed against Andrei Sannikov were made. It happened later, in Mahilyou remand prison. A prisoner Hryhoryeu was placed into the cell of Sannikov there, and he told that while being escorted under guard, two persons in mufti came up to him and warned that he should be careful when staying in the same cell with Sannikov, as he could be “seriously injured or murdered”. Other fellow inmates supported Hryhoryeu, Khalip says:

“They started saying: yes, it’s true, Andrei, you would not get to Babrujsk. We are not going to kill you, but you must understand, there could be all kinds of provocations. You could be transferred to a different cell, where you could be beaten powerfully, or could be even killed. It’s easy to explain: prisoners have killed each other. Such things happen…”

After that Sannikov could not sleep for two days and nights fearing an attack while he is sleeping. He scheduled an appointment with the administration, but without success. Meanwhile, the Corrections department had been hiding from Iryna Khalip the information about the whereabouts of her husband for a week. On Monday they finally confessed that he was in Mahilyou, and a lawyer immediately went to Mahilyou to him. The lawyer wrote an appeal to the administration of the remand prison stating that there is a grave danger to Sannikov’s life and health. Then Andrei was transferred into a solitary cell. In this connection Iryna Khalip addressed directly the leadership of the prison system of Belarus.

“I am addressing them: citizens, senior officers, do not commit crimes, do not take responsibility for murder, grave bodily injury, stop this total lawlessness. Eventually you will have to answer for that, as KGB men are sure to get off scot-free as usual. Come to your senses, and stop pressurizing my husband, return him to the place where he is to serve the sentence.”

It is still unknown when Sannikov is to be taken to Babrujsk prison finally. Now the road under repair is allegedly a hindrance for that. Iryna Khalip underlines that Sannikov is not demanded to write a petition for pardon, as it was done with other political prisoners. Reasoning about the motives of this pressure on her husband, Iryna thinks that they probably want to exert such pressure on Andrei that he would agree to write such a petition himself, or they want to ruin, quash him as a person, so that he would abandon politics altogether.

Iryna Khalip is convinced that by releasing some political prisoners under the pressure of the West, the authorities have started some strange multimove game with those who are left behind the bars, including the presidential candidates Sannikov, Vus, Statkevich. There is no news from the last-mentioned for two weeks. The situation is critical, Iryna Khalip is convinced.

A human rights activist Alena Tankachova agrees with her:

“We understand that something is happening now and something is done with this group of people, but we do not understand what it is. Probably, it is the last attempt to break them down psychologically, or maybe by force. We do not know what is happening, but we state that the pressure has been increased, which causes our enormous concern.”