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Lukashenko escaped and witnessed human smuggling into the European Union

One day in June, Andrei Sagaranda left his children in the kindergarten in Brest as usual. He jumped into a car that was waiting for him and took him north to a bunker near the border with Lithuania. As one of the activists in the political opposition to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, he was heavily employed by the police and security forces.

Since the presidential elections in August last year, he, like thousands of other Belarusians, has been arrested several times and also spent months in prison.

Andrej Sjarenda with his wife Polina Sjarenda-Panasjuk.

Photo: private

His wife, well-known activist Balina Sharanda Panasyuk, was recently sentenced to two years in a concentration camp for insulting the police and Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s president also known as Europe’s last dictator.

Now it was his turn to sue.

– The accusations against me can lead to imprisonment for up to six years, so she told me that I should flee, and not stay in the country, says Andrei Sagaranda.

met in the dugout Another political activist, Olga Pavlova, is a 30-year-old doctor who worked during the presidential elections as part of the campaign staff of opposition candidate Svyatlana Tsechanskaya.

Together, they will attempt to cross the heavily guarded Belarusian border area to reach security in Lithuania.

Soon after the disappearance of Andrej Sjarenda, the police began to search for him, at the railway stations, his photo hung with a search warrant.

– We studied maps and photos on Google Maps before escaping and found an area that we thought would work. Through our contacts, the Lithuanian border guards were waiting for us on the other side. We had a certain distance where we would go out.

They smuggled five kilometers In the dark through the forest, on the Belarusian side, the border areas were closed to people without special permits. When they were very close to the border, they came straight to a group of military tents.

– No one is allowed to stay in the area closest to the border without a special permit, so it was undoubtedly the security service or the border guards, says Andrei Sagaranda.

The border between Lithuania and Belarus near the city of Šalčininkai.

The border between Lithuania and Belarus near the city of Šalčininkai.

Photo: Lisa Mathison

They passed tents, passed unnoticed, then crossed a swamp before finally crossing over to the other side – to the security of the European Union.

Shortly thereafter he met They are a group of immigrants from Africa.

– We were dirty and wet from escaping through the woods and swamp, they were neat and clean. He said someone had new, spotless sneakers, and it was pretty clear they had to get help across the border.

Andrei Sagaranda says he considers what he saw as evidence of the Belarusian authorities’ involvement in migrant smuggling.

– The main victims of this situation are refugees, and the Lithuanians were very cold towards them, but they did not understand the situation. It must be understood that this is a planned revenge against the European Union and Lithuania.

– It is very sad that these people are being held hostage in this situation. Andrej Sjarenda says it’s about thousands of people who sold everything they had to get to the European Union.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Photo: Andrei Stasevich / AP

According to the data Andrei Sjarenda has connections within Belarus, and it is said that there are a lot of immigrants in villages and towns near the border waiting to come.

After just one week in Lithuania, he was given a residence permit and a job, and he says he suffers from all the migrants who remain in the camps.

Migrants at a camp in Lithuania, after they were arrested by police after crossing the border from Belarus.

Migrants at a camp in Lithuania, after they were arrested by police after crossing the border from Belarus.

Photo: Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

– They sought asylum just like me, I am an immigrant just like them, and I want the international community to treat them with greater understanding and with greater humanity.

Andre Sagaranda’s wife He is still in detention and according to the ruling will be issued next year.

The children live with the grandmother, and when he sees them again he does not know.

– It’s a difficult situation, I wanted to bring them here but the eldest son says he wants to wait for his mother to be released.

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