Updated at 22:06,23-05-2018

U.S. Congressman wrote to Belarusian political prisoners

Radio Liberty

Deputy of the U.S. House of Representatives John Shimkus sent a letter of support to Nikolai Statkevich, Andrey Sannikov, Dmitry Bondarenko, Dmitry Dashkevich, Eduard Lobov, Pavel Sevyarynets, Ales Byalyatski and Nikolay Autukhovich.

The prisoner of Ivatsevichy colony № 5 phoned to Radio Liberty, and with the permission of the political prisoner Nikolay Autukhovich, dictated the letter, which came to the colony from the Deputy of the U.S. House of Representatives John Shimkus.

The message sent to Autukhovich, dated by September 21, was given to political prisoner at the office of the colony's chief last week. As soon as in the colony's administration there was no one who knew the language, they invited the prisoner, who has studied the language at school and in the colony, to translate the letter.

Congressman Shimkus supplemented the letter with his speech at the first session of the House of Representatives on September 21. It was also read out in the same translation at the office of the colony's chief, and then given to the political prisoner.

In the speech he notes that even now, many months after the events of December 19, political prisoners are still being kept in Belarusian jails. President Alexander Lukashenko used them to bargain with the international community for economic purposes. According to John Shimkus, "for the first time in 17 years people in Belarus are looking for a real alternative and demand democratic change. Now is the time to invest in democracy in Belarus. The window, that the opposition has now, can be short. People in Belarus need our support and we will provide it until the fall of current tough regime".