| 22 April 2024, Monday |

Swiss woman jailed in Belarus after protest arrest in 2020 freed

According to Bern, a Swiss woman who was imprisoned in Belarus in 2020 for resisting police during her detention at a rally following President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election was released on Friday.

Natallia Hersche, a dual Swiss-Belarusian national, was scheduled to return to Switzerland later in the day, according to a statement from the country’s foreign ministry.

She was caught in September 2020 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in December of that year.

President Iganzio Cassis of Switzerland, who is also the country’s foreign minister, congratulated her on her release from a jail in Mogilev, Belarus.

“It brings me and my staff tremendous satisfaction that Natallia Hersche is finally free and can return to Switzerland after all of these efforts.” “For the rest of her voyage, we wish her luck and good health,” he said.

After Lukashenko won a sixth term in office in a contested election in August 2020, widespread demonstrations erupted in Belarus.

Protesters say Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a political rookie who ran for president in lieu of her imprisoned husband, was the genuine winner of the election.

The demonstrations were severely suppressed.

Hersche was detained on September 19 at a women’s march in Minsk, Belarus’s capital, and served 15 days in jail for taking part in the illegal demonstration.

Hersche, who was 51 at the time, was immediately hauled back into custody after a police officer accused her of scratching his face during her detention when she removed his balaclava.

She was found guilty of defying police by a Minsk court.

“Switzerland will continue to support human rights in Belarus, including the release of other detainees, the protection of freedom of expression, and the investigation of human rights breaches,” the foreign ministry stated.

  • AFP