Before heading back to Moscow, I stopped off to visit Novaya Gazeta’s special correspondent in Belarus Irina Khalip. She, the the wife of former Belarusian presidential candidate and current political prisoner Andrei Sannikov, passed on to me a letter ment for Svetlana Medvedeva and Ludmila Putina. Khalip has written the very same type of letters to the wifes of the French, US and Polish presidents and the British Prime Minister. Khalip intends on sending the letters to each country’s first lady through the embassy of each respective country. Novaya Gazeta’s editorial board decided to publish Irina’s letter to Svetlana Medvedeva, Ludmila Putina and Samantha Cameron.
To the spouse of the President
of the Russian Federation
To the spouse of the Prime Minister
of the Russian Federation
Dear Ms Putina and Ms Medvedeva,
My name is Irina Khalip and I am a citizen of Belarus. I am writing to you as the wife of political prisoner Andrei Sannikov and the mother of four-year-old Daniil Sannikov. It is my hope that you, as wives and mothers, will understand me.
My husband was a candidate for president of Belarus. On election day, he was thrown behind bars and sentenced to five years in prison for participating in the elections and in a peaceful demonstration. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko dispatched of my husband for being a strong opponent, for his experience in civil service and, after having resigned from a deputy foreign minister’s office and become an ambassador at large, for remaining a significant player in Belarusian politics. He had all the chances in the world to win the presidential elections (if they would have been fair) and forge reasonable relations with both Russia and the West. My husband was thrown in jail for all these reasons.
You could say that things have now hit a critical stage. The Belarusian security services are doing everything in their power to turn me into a widow and my son into an orphan. Our son, unfortunately, has already had the sad experience of being an orphan: my husband and I were arrested on 19 December, and the state tried to send Daniil to an orphanage. I don’t want him to become an orphan.
You both are also wives and mothers, and I ask you to convince your husbands to do everything they can to stop my husband’s physical destruction and demand that Lukashenko free him and other Belarusian political prisoners.
I have no doubt that you will find the right words
Sincerely yours and hoping for your understanding,
2 October 2011
To the spouse of the Prime minister
of the United Kingdom
I am writing to you as a wife of Belarusian political prisoner Andrei Sannikov, presidential candidate on elections in year 2010, and as mother of four years old Danila Sannikov. I hope you will understand me as mother and as wife.
My husband was arrested on election day December 19 and sentenced to five years in prison just for taking part in peaceful protest action against falsification of elections. In fact the last dictator of Europe Lukashenka avenges him for being strong opponent who wanted to lead Belarus of crisis and renew good relations with the West and with Russia.
Today the situation is critical. Belarusian special serviced are doing everything to make me widow and my son an orphan. Unfortunately our son already has experience of orphancy. On December 19 I was arrested together with my husband. Our son stayed with loving grandparents, but the authorities tried to take him to orphanage. I don’t want that my son to become an orphan.
You are wife and mother as well. And I am asking you to persuade your husband to take all possible measures and use all instruments to prevent physical elimination of my husband Andrei Sannikov and demand that dictator Lukashenka to release him and other political prisoners out of prisons. This is what European Union has been demanding since December 20 but its demands have been limited by resolutions which are not taken into attention by Lukashenka.
I have no doubt that you find right words to persuade your husband to reach release of my husband and all those who got to Belarusian prison only because of their beliefs.
With respect and hope - Irina Khalip