Society If I were asked to name the people who are a model of patriotism, I would have remembered Andrei Sannikov.
If I were asked to name the people who sincerely believe in Europe and in democracy, Andrew probably would have been among them.
When I was asked to name the brave people who are able to withstand the physical and psychological suffering for the sake of truth and dignity, I would have probably called Andrei Sannikov.
Andrew for me — a loyal friend and a source of inspiration, freedom fighter and a man who calls for action, not only his beloved homeland of Belarus, but also the community of democratic nations.
When I met with Andrew the first time about ten years ago, I did not occur to him that he would become a true leader, able to mobilize society and challenge the powerful autocratic regime of President Alexander Lukashenko, the family of Andrei face the threat of severe persecution, which is a threat to its health and life.
With voters in Brest
As a former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, who resigned in protest against the corrupt leadership of Belarus, he struck me as a serious diplomat, not ambitious leader. Following the outcome of the government, he had no political ambitions, he wanted to devote himself to the protection of human rights and democratic development of relations with Europe. He was among the founders of the "Charter -97" — a group of civil rights, which is well known for its excellent Trilingual site. Later, he initiated the creation of the movement "European Belarus".
For his intelligence, analytical and language skills of Andrei frequently invited to speak at major international conferences, he bought numerous articles about the problems of his country. And although he polite man with a strong self-control, he was always ready to argue, especially with politicians and analysts, who believed that the dialogue between the authorities and may result in the liberalization of its authoritarian regime.
After considerable discussion with close friends of the movement "European Belarus", supported by his wife — a talented journalist Irina Khalip, he decided last year to enter into a serious political game — the race for the presidency. He knew very well that this is a very risky game, but it reached a point when I was ready to take responsibility for personal challenge dictator.
Although? All domestic and international forecasts, the lack of resources and the oppressive environment Andrew was able during the presidential campaign to open a new quality and achieve the results that are impressive. He drew on his side many influential people from different spheres of social life, has created a team and a strategy that generated at the whole country hope for change.
Pre-election rally December 6, 2010
As of December 19, tens of thousands of people to the call of Sannikov and other presidential candidates took to the streets in protest against rigged elections and authoritarian rule, Andrew was ahead. As an international observer, I could see how people reacted to him as he spoke to them. It was a different Andrew than the one I met ten years ago, it was a bold, decisive man in the Belarusian barricade that kept the flag of their struggle for dignity and freedom. Then he was beaten by a brutal state machine Lukashenko, who was afraid of the growth of people's power. The presidential candidate Sannikov, his associates, his wife and four presidential candidates appeared in the KGB prison. The world was shocked by the scenes of Minsk.
Although? International protests and demands, political prisoners, including Sannikov, have been subjected to ill-treatment, were not released. The last couple of months, the prisoners are victims of the absurd and manipulyavanyh legal proceedings and lawsuits.
December 19, 2010
It was announced that trial Andrew will be held April 27, 2011, after the Easter holidays. We can assume that the most famous today Lukashenko opponent awaits most heaviest, long sentence among all 40 defendants. I'm sure Andrew will be held at the court with dignity. Like many freedom-loving men and women in Belarus and globally, He became a source of inspiration and change. And I am confident that the democratic international community will continue to fight for his release and the release of all Belarusians from the power of the dictator Lukashenko, who is now facing great socio-political and international issues.
Paul Demes, a senior researcher at the Bratislava branch of the international German Marshall Fund
All the portraits on the background grid