Opposition politician Sevyarynets gets married in Minsk


Prominent opposition politician Paval Sevyarynets, who co-chairs Belarusian Christian Democracy (BCD), married his long-time girlfriend Volha Shylak at the Archcathedral Church of the Most Holy Virgin Mary in Minsk on January 11.

Some 70 people, including relatives, friends, BCD members, opposition politicians and journalists, were in attendance.

Mr. Sevyarynets met Volha five years ago. She is a teacher of Polish and Belarusian.

“I am thankful to God for this day,” the 37-year-old Sevyarynets told BelaPAN. “The church wedding is an extremely important event for us, which marks the start of family life. An Orthodox Christian has married a Catholic woman at a Catholic church. We unite in our hearts what is separated here on earth. May God give happiness to our friends who support us today, and to all Belarus!”

Mr. Sevyarynets, who was widely viewed as a political prisoner, was released in October 2013 after serving a three-year "restricted freedom" and corrective labor sentence in the village of Kuplin in the Pruzhany district, Brest region, where he worked on a local farm and lived in a dormitory-type facility.

He received the sentence in connection with a post-election protest staged in Minsk’s Independence Square on the night of December 19, 2010. A district judge found him guilty of instigating disturbances and participating in them.
Born in Orsha, Vitsyebsk region, on December 30, 1976, Mr. Sevyarynets graduated from the geography department of Belarusian State University in 2000.

In October 1995, he joined the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF) and became leader of the party’s youth wing in February 1997.

Mr. Sevyarynets was elected co-chairman of Malady (Young) Front at the opposition youth organization’s founding conference in September 1997.

In the period between 1997 and 2004, Mr. Sevyarynets was arrested more than 40 times, spent a total of more than seven months in jail and fined a total of some $3,500 for his role in street protests.

He spent two months in detention following an opposition demonstration in April 1998 on a charge of "malicious hooliganism." In November 1998, authorities dropped the criminal case against him under pressure from the international community.

Mr. Sevyarynets spent 21 months in a correctional facility in the village of Malaye Sitna in the north of Belarus near the Latvian border between August 2005 and May 2007, serving a restricted freedom and corrective labor term for staging a series of unauthorized demonstrations in central Minsk in the fall of 2004 against the official results of that year's parliamentary elections and national referendum, which are widely believed to have been rigged.

He was released on parole on May 22, 2007.