On the eve of the Ice Hockey World Championship former political prisoner Pavel Seviarynets was summoned for a “preventive” conversation to the Frunzenski district police department of Minsk. The conversation took place on 8 May and lasted only 20 minutes.
When going to the police department, Pavel was confident that he would not be detained, since, it was not for the first time, and secondly, because of support from his wife Volha, who came along with him. Palitviazni.info asked the politician about his conversation with the police, as well as whether it was a preventive conversation on the eve of the Championship or juts a regular scheduled meeting.
Pavel Seviarynets: I think it was accidental that they appointed the meeting on the eve of May 9. On the background of the detentions, which are now underway in Belarus, it is a kind of a signal. But I think from the very beginning they chose the following measure against me – an official warning at a preventive conversation. Before the Champ, the authorities do not need much fuss at the political level.
Palitviazni.info: Pavel, do you have any feeling that the events in Ukraine and the World Hockey Championship made people forget about the political prisoners?
Pavel Seviarynets: The issue of political prisoners in Belarus is rather important. It is highlighted from time to time, including at the official level by both Europeans and by the Belarusian human rights activists and politicians, but indeed, Ukraine pushed the subject into the background. Of course, people are killed there every day. And against this background even the World Hockey Championship fades. Nevertheless, we remember about the political prisoners, pray for them, do what we can. Thank God, Andrei Haidukou was released today.
Besides, I am sure that the European press, which will arrive in Belarus, will be objective and will cover all the relevant Belarusian events, and will ask about the political prisoners, not least. For example, I have already met with foreign journalists, and the questions they asked to a lesser extent concerned the Championship, but rather the situation in Belarus.
There will be positive developments in the issue of political prisoners, they are already happening. Here, for example, head of the Swedish human rights organization Östgruppen Martin Uggla is now waiting in the airport terminal, he was not allowed in Belarus; they grab the Young Front activists and put them in jail, as they say, without trial, just because they can do actions of support. The regime is afraid, and rightly afraid, of solidarity both from the Europeans and from the Belarusians.
Belarusian authorities continue to preventively detain and arrest citizens. As of 2 p.m. May 8, 22 activists were arrested and convicted. The police are also seeking Dzmitry Karashkou, Maryna Khomich, Anton Zhylko, Artur Finkevich and Dzmitry Kavalhin.