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On this BELARUSIAN SOLIDARITY DAY help to free Prisoners of Conscience!

16.08.2006    source:

Two young Belarusians – Nikolai Astreiko and Timofei Dranchuk – face penal colony for seeking to ensure free and fair elections in Belarus.

Nikolai Astreiko and Timofei Dranchuk have been declared Prisoners of Conscience by Amnesty International.  Please support the appeal at and contact your Amnesty International branch to find out how to write appeals to have the young men released.

Father of one of the “Partnerstvo” Prisoners of Conscience calls the prison conditions equivalent to torture and ill-treatment

Political prisoner and activist of the civic initiative for monitoring the elections Timofei Dranchuk was allowed a visit from his father on 15 August. After the visit to the SIZO [pre-trial detention centre] on Volodarska St., Valery Dranchuk spoke of his son: “For the first time I notice how much Timofei has changed physically. I have to say I am worried about his health.  If we’d been allowed to shake hands, I wouldn’t have recognized his hand, he has begun just so much thinner. I think this is related to what he went through during and after the trial. And of course it’s connected with being moved to the Volodarksa SIZO where the conditions are radically different.  The conditions in which Timofei is being held can be called a form of torture”.  Valery Dranchuk added that his son had been moved into a cell for convicted prisoners in a basement.  There are 10 prisoners in the cell.

“The smoky and overcrowded cell – there were 18 people there today – made my throat itch, not just Timofei and his cellmates. During the visit, Timofei had difficulty speaking and kept coughing from the suffocating conditions in a cell with a concrete floor. There’s no chance of getting any regular sleep, at night, that is.  The question is what’s it for?  The Criminal Code has been “refined” to mean that young patriots, wanting to observe the “elegant” elections are thrown onto the concrete floor of a prison and sleep in bunks in three layers”.

Timofei Dranchuk’s lawyers Marianna Semeshko and Pavel Sapelko have lodged cassation appeals against Timofei’s sentence. On 14 August Timofei himself also lodged a cassation appeal at the city court.

Valery Dranchuk continues: “That’s the range of more or less realistic defence. Anything else, unfortunately, is in a different framework, in a virtual realm, if we’re to be brutally sober and face the truth. That is, I would like to say that now is a terribly important moment for Timofei and Nikolai. After the trial of the “Partnerstvo” activists and the unprecedented sentence, a new starting point, as it were, began. Attention to the case of the civic initiative activists may wane. That must not happen, just as we must not forget about the other reprisal sentences imposed on Aleksandr Kazulin and all the other political cases and other Prisoners of Conscience”.

Valery Dranchuk also thanked all of those who sent birthday greetings to his son. The day after the verdict was announced, Timofei Dranchuk turned 25.

“Timofei asked me to say a big thank you to all of those who sent their greetings or reminded people about his birthday, as the young activists of the opposition movement “Bunt” [“Rebellion”] did so wonderfully.  By the way, one thing I find particularly upsetting is that Timofei has not even been able to hold his son, Platon, in his arms« - that is very hard for our family”.

Timofei’s son was born a month and a half after the young activists were arrested. He saw his son for the first time on the day that the verdict was read out. 1154734653  
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