Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

First Minister becomes ‘godparent’ to rock star jailed by Lukashenko

Alexander Lukashenko has been president of Belarus for almost 30 years (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Alexander Lukashenko has been president of Belarus for almost 30 years (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Scottish ministers have made a gesture of support for political prisoners in Belarus by taking on “godparenthood” for five people imprisoned in the eastern European country.

Humza Yousaf was among five ministers who gave their backing to imprisoned opponents of Alexander Lukashenko’s regime.

A campaign by the German/Swiss organisation Libereco has encouraged European politicians to take over “godparenthood” for people jailed amid a government crackdown.

Mr Yousaf has become the 400th European politician – and the first leader of a government – to do so, becoming a godparent of rock musician Dzmitryi Halavacz.

Mr Halavacz’s supporters say he was sentenced to nine years in prison for crimes including “insulting the president” and his rock band, Tor, was declared an “extremist group”.

Belarus was the scene of mass protests in 2020 as Lukashenko retained power after an election condemned in the West as fraudulent.

The authoritarian ruler has been the country’s president for almost 30 years and thousands were detained as his government tried to stifle dissent.

The First Minister said: “Politicians who rage against democracy never prevail. I watched aghast as Lukashenko stole the election in Belarus in 2020, and the brutal crackdown on those who disagreed with him that followed.

“As the first head of a government anywhere in the world to sponsor a political prisoner of the Belarus regime, I encourage others to join Scotland in unequivocally condemning the abuses carried out by the Lukashenko regime against the Belarusian people.

“Dzmitryi has been handed a nine-year prison sentence – simply for exercising his freedom to speak out, and protest.

“I hope by shining a light on what him and others are facing in Belarus (that) I, and the Government I lead, can raise awareness of and support for him, and for the thousands of other political prisoners.”

External Affairs Secretary Angus Robertson, who is also taking part in the campaign said: “The Scottish Government stands with those who suffer injustices, and we will use our platform to advocate for change.

“By participating in the Libereco godparenting scheme, we hope to bring further international attention to the human rights situation in Belarus and we stand united with those who seek fairness, equality and justice.”