The Christian Vision Group’s Statement Regarding the Imprisonment of Daria Losik, Wife of Political Prisoner Ihar Losik

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21 January 2023

On 19 January 2023, the Brest regional court sentenced political prisoner Daria Losik to two years in a penal colony. In December 2021, her husband Ihar Losik was also sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment in a high-security penal colony. Consequently, their young daughter Paulina has been left without parental care.

Daria was detained on 18 October 2022 and spent three months in pre-trial detention in a pre-trial detention centre for an interview about her husband Ihar Losik and Ihar’s first meeting in 22 months with his four-year-old daughter Paulina during Daria’s short visit in the Homieĺ pre-trial detention centre where the political prisoner was after being sentenced for allegedly organizing mass riots and inciting hatred.

The interview was given to the Belsat TV channel in April 2022, after the meeting took place. The meeting of the convicted blogger with his daughter was discussed. The Belarusian authorities’ claims against Daria Losik seem to be due to the fact that the web resources of the Belsat TV channel — a division of the Polish Television (TVP S.A.) — broadcasting in Belarusian and Russian via satellite and on the internet, were recognized an “extremist formation” by the Lukashenka regime in November 2021. Therefore, Daria Losik’s interview with the TV channel was considered by the authorities to constitute «assistance to extremist activity» — a crime under art. 361-4 of the Criminal Code. She was also charged with acknowledging that her husband was a political prisoner and convicted illegally; according to the authorities, Daria Losik expressed “a personal negative assessment of state institutions whose competence includes criminal prosecution and the administration of justice.”

Ihar Losik is a Catholic believer. In August 2021, he sent an anguished letter to Pope Francis, in which he spoke about his 42-day hunger strike, which he felt forced to take in order to draw attention to the “absurd criminal prosecution” against him. To prove his innocence, the activist went not only on a hunger strike; he also attempted suicide as the last resort to get through to justice: “I tried to open my veins because being in prison for 15 years for nothing and not seeing your daughter is worse than death”. Turning to the Pope, Ihar Losik asked not even for himself personally; he wanted to hear from the Pontiff the voice of truth and solidarity, he urged Pope “to stand up for good, for truth, for justice, for hundreds and thousands of Belarusians who have despaired in the same and even worse situations.” It is still unknown whether this message reached Pope Francis because it has not been answered still.

When Ihar Losik was starving two years ago, Orthodox priests from Belarus stood up for him. Rev. Uladziskau Bahamolnikau joined his hunger strike trying to save the political prisoner from death. Rev. Alexander Kukhta submitted a guarantee for Ihar Losik to the Investigative Committee. Both priests were persecuted. In August 2022, Rev. Bahamolnikau was arrested and spent 110 days behind bars serving seven consecutive administrative arrests; he was subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment and is now under house arrest in connection with the criminal case initiated against him. Rev. Kukhta became a refugee in Lithuania.

Daria Losik fought for the life of her husband and for justice to prevail. She remained in the country in order to be closer to her husband and have the opportunity to meet him at least sometimes and to bring their daughter to him. For an innocent interview in defence of her husband, the authorities severely punished her with imprisonment, dooming Paulina, the young daughter of Ihar and Daria, to growing up without parental care.

The Christian Vision Group expresses solidarity with the Losik family and demands to cease their unjust persecution. We consider Ihar and Daria Losik the conscience of the Belarusian people in their uncompromising commitment to the truth, upholding human rights and dignity in the face of dictatorship and the destruction of civil society in Belarus. We also admire their spousal love and devotion to each other.

We appeal to the authorities to at least replace Daria Losik’s criminal penalty with a non-custodial one. Being in Belarus for the last three years, she has proved that she does not intend to leave the country. She did not carry out any violent actions or actions violating public order; she does not pose any danger to the people around her. Being around her daughter is necessary for Paulina’s upbringing and care.

We also appeal to Pope Francis on behalf of the Losik family — Ihar, Daria and Paulina — recalling Ihar’s letter sent to the Holy Father back in August 2021. We ask you to help Daria Losik be released as soon as possible and return to her daughter.