8 December 2023
A Roman Catholic believer from Maladziečna, Pavel Kuchynski, was arrested and detained on 26 January 2022 for publishing critical comments online. On 7 June 2022, the Vilejka District court sentenced him to five years in a penal colony. He was charged under the following articles of the Criminal Code: 369 (Insulting a representative of authority), 389 (Threat against a judge), 368 (Insulting the President of Belarus), 391 (Insulting a judge or a lay judge), 364 (Threat of violence against a representative of authority). On 2 September 2022, following the appeal, the Minsk Regional Court reduced his imprisonment by three months — to 4 years and 9 months. At the same time, a fine of 120 basic units (1,570 Euros) was added. On 13 April 2022, the Christian Vision group issued a statement protesting the depriving of Kuchynski of vital medical care. Since then, the health condition of the believer who suffers from a terminal oncological Hodgkin’s lymphoma worsened further. He received the status of the first grade disability, that is, the most debilitating one according to the Belarusian classification.
Kuchynski requires immediate release on humanitarian grounds. He has been sent to the prison hospital in Kaliadzičy for a course of chemotherapy. Although he is receiving medical care, the current treatment is not sufficient, and his disease is progressing. According to medics, Kuchynski requires a bone marrow transplant; this cannot be performed in prison. To save his life and for the opportunity of further treatment the absence of which would lead to his premature death, the 29-year-old Kuchynski filed a petition for pardon addressed to Alexander Lukashenko. His petition, however, has not been forwarded to the addressee. Every day of delay could cost Kuchynski his life.
We express our concern about Pavel Kuchynsky’s health condition and the lack of the necessary timely therapy for his progressing oncological disease, in particular, bone marrow transplantation.
We ask the criminal executive body, in whose jurisdiction Kuchynski is currently, to make all the necessary steps for providing the political prisoner with the complete necessary and timely medical care, in accordance with the recommendations of his attending physician, including bone marrow transplantation.
We ask the current authorities in Belarus to release Pavel Kuchynski, who suffers from serious illness and disability, on humanitarian grounds or, at least, to replace his punishment with a non-custodial one; or to grant him conditional early release from serving his sentence due to the need for medical treatment.
We appeal to the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus to help with drawing attention to the situation of Catholic believer Pavel Kuchynsky and to petition the authorities to provide him with the necessary pastoral and medical care, including bone marrow transplantation.
We also appeal to the representative of the Holy See in Belarus, the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Ante Jozic, to make all possible diplomatic efforts for obtaining comprehensive information about the condition of political prisoner and Catholic believer Pavel Kuchynski; and for ensuring his rights, including the right to receive medical care the lack of which would cause premature death.
We draw the attention of the global Christian community to the situation of Catholic believer Pavel Kuchynski and call for solidarity and prayer.