Lukashenko’s rival’s son, Eduard Babaryko, is locked up in Belarus

Eduard Babaryko has denied politically driven claims of tax evasion and participation in organizing disturbances.

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya claimed the authorities was out for vengeance after her father’s failed presidential run.

In 2021, Viktor Babaryko was given a 14-year sentence for corruption.

Since the former banker was transferred from jail to a hospital in April of last year, no updates on his condition have been made public.

An attorney for Spring 96, Pavel Sapelka, told the BBC that Mr. Babaryko’s lengthy sentence was not unexpected because every defendant in a “politically motivated criminal case” faced the possibility of an unusually long jail term.

For example, “if the accused is the son of one of Lukashenko’s most successful rivals in the presidential elections,” he added.

On June 18, 2020, two months before Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of an election that was generally panned as fraudulent, both were taken into custody.

Mr Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994, but he has become increasingly reliant on Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, for backing since protests erupted in the wake of the election.

Alexandra Zvereva, Eduard’s fiancée, told BBC Russian that he was imprisoned as retaliation by the government of Belarus because Viktor Babaryko had the audacity to run for office.

“This seems to me the most painful punishment for parents, when their children are held responsible for their actions,” she remarked.

Belarusian dissident families are being held hostage, including my own son.
There are a lot of prominent political prisoners in Belarus, and Viktor Babaryko is one of them. He has not been able to contact his family in months.

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, leader of the opposition, said the last time she heard anything about her husband, Sergei, was in March.

Mr Tikhanovsky was a well-known YouTube blogger when he ran for president in 2020, but he was arrested five months before the election, long before Eduard Babaryko and his father were arrested.

Ms. Tikhanovskaya then ran for office and declared success, but she had to depart the country when the incumbent claimed a landslide victory and ruthlessly repressed demonstrators and opponents.

Monday night, she claimed she received a “strange and horrifying message” from an anonymous source claiming that her spouse had passed away while incarcerated at Zhodino.

CCTV footage from a prison, dated 5 July, supposedly showing Sergei Tikhanovsky doing neck exercises and eating a meal in his cell was leaked online by pro-Lukashenko activists on a Wednesday afternoon.

A rights group called Spring 96 reported that the ominous message delivered to Mr. Tikhanovsky’s wife was most likely a provocation by Belarus secret services, and that Mr. Tikhanovsky has been unable to communicate with his lawyer or family regarding his fate.

Others who were involved in Viktor Babaryko’s election campaign, including political prisoner Maria Kolesnikova, have remained silent.

When her candidate was imprisoned, she joined Ms. Tikhanovskaya’s team and refused to leave Belarus after the election, making her one of the most visible figures in the protests.

Mrs. Tikhanovskaya expressed her happiness at seeing her “alive and strong” husband, but also called for the release of all political prisoners and the opportunity for their attorneys to meet with them.

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