Andrei Sannikov, Leader of European Belarus civil campaign

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Andrei Sannikov, Leader of European Belarus civil campaign

Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Sannikov, comes from one of the few dynasties in Belarus. A memorial sign in honour of his grandfather, one of the founders of the national theatre, was installed on the main street of Minsk when Alexander Lukashenko was already in office. This, however, didn’t prevent Lukashenko from throwing Sannikov into jail after becoming a presidential candidate in 2010 and turning into one of Lukashenko’s most significant opponents.

Andrei Sannikov’s family had to face all rancor of the person whom he dared to compete with in the elections. His wife, well-known journalist Iryna Khalip, was arrested. Their son was nearly taken away from his grandmother to an orphanage. After a court session where he was sentenced to five years of imprisonment for participating in a peaceful protest demonstration he was severely pressured to sign a petition for pardon. Even after he did sign the petition, Sannikov was kept in custody for a long time.

Today Sannikov is formally the leader of the civil campaign “European Belarus”, a small group of democratic activists, however his influence is still considerable, primarily among European politicians with whom he maintains good relations. His supporters control a popular website Charter’97. And even his opponents admit their respect for this person who has been able to demonstrate a high level of civic and human courage.

Interview with Andrei Sannikau’s wife, journalist Irina Khalip, Andrei Sannikau in prison, One of the first interviews with Andrei Sannikau after release from prison

Author: Handbook on Belarus for International journalists