ON-Lion Letter
In mid-April, Belarus released opposition leader and former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov and his colleague Dmitri Bondarenko from prison.  Sannikov had been sentenced in 2011 to five years in prison for taking part in a protest against Soviet-style authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko's disputed re-election in 2010. 

Sannikov was pardoned by Lukashenko after the European Union (EU) imposed visa bans and asset freezes on government officials and businessmen in the former Soviet republic.  Lukashenko's system relies heavily on financial support from Russia, which provides Belarus with cheap energy and other benefits.

"We Remember" had publicly objected to Sannikov's treatment, pleaded for his release, and urged the EU actions, along with other international democracy-promotion and human-rights organizations.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee has supported "We Remember," which was created in 2000 by the widows and relatives of leading citizens of Belarus who were arrested by the secret police and never heard from again.

In an interview with Reuters, the 58-year-old Sannikov said the government had placed special provocateurs in prison with him who had tried to break his spirit and get him to take his own life.  "The aim of the provocations was to humiliate me, to bring my status in the eyes of the inmates to the lowest possible level," he said.

"Now, I want to rebuild my crushed life," Sannikov said.

Later in April, "We Remember" led a demonstration at the Belarusian Embassy at The Hague in the Netherlands to demand freedom for all political prisoners in Belarus.
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