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Belarus, Maryja Kalesnikava – no news about the oppositionist for over 430 days

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It is considered one of the symbols of protests against the dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko. Maryja Kalesnikava was sentenced to 11 years in prison and is staying in the Gomel penal colony, but her family has not heard from her for over a year, reported the independent Belarusian portal Pozirk, citing the sister of the political prisoner, Tatsiana Khomych.

The last letter Kalesnikawa's relatives received from her over a year ago, on February 15, 2023.

– Unfortunately, there is no contact with Masha, no new messages. The situation is the same as before. Recently, information appeared (from former prisoners – ed.) that her health condition had deteriorated. We don't have any details – what it is, what it involves, whether they treat it at all. There is no way to verify this information, said Kalesnikawa's sister, Taccjana Chomicz, in an interview with the Pozirk portal.

– It is certainly known that Mary is still being held in the so-called a special cell (a separate cell to which you are sent, e.g. for offenses – ed.). She is not in the unit (work brigade in the colony – ed.) with the other people – added the activist's sister.

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Mary KalesnikawaGettyImages

READ: Appeal of the families of Belarusian political prisoners and former prisoners

In full isolation

Kalesnikava is one of the imprisoned people who the Belarusian authorities keep in complete isolation from the outside world. According to human rights activists, this is a deliberate act that can be classified as torture.

Kalesnikawa was first an associate of banker and businessman Viktar Babaryka, who he intended to run in the presidential elections in Belarusand after his arrest and imprisonment collaborated with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskayaa candidate in the 2020 presidential elections and the main rival of Alexander Lukashenko.

In a political trial, Kalesnikawa was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He is serving his sentence in the Gomel penal colony. She was tried together with lawyer Maksim Znak (sentenced to 10 years in prison) for “calls to take action to the detriment of national security, conspiracy to seize power in the country, creation of an extremist organization.”

Paweł Łatuszka: there are thousands of political prisoners in Belarus TVN24 BiS

10-minute meeting with the father

Radio Swaboda reminds that in November 2022, due to perforated stomach ulcers, Kalesnikawa was admitted to hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery. After returning to the colony and being placed in the local prison, she was allowed to meet her father for a short time (10 minutes).

According to Radio Swaboda's interlocutors, Kalesnikawa did not fully recover, she struggled with high blood pressure, for which she was not given medication. She lost a lot of weight.

A former inmate from the same colony where Kalesnikawa is imprisoned said she was transferred from a special cell (sometimes referred to as a prison within a prison) to a solitary confinement cell. It is colder and damp in the cell. Prisoners are not provided with a mattress, bedding or outerwear. The conditions in the special cell are better, says the former inmate, explaining that at least “there is a mattress, a duvet, bedding and clothes there.”

Main photo source: GettyImages

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