Hogan Lovells secures pardon for Belarusian opposition leader

Hogan Lovells’ pro-bono work with a not-for-profit campaign group has led to the release of a Belarusian diplomat after more than a year in jail.

Hogan Lovells partner David Weiner and associate Joshua Newcomer secured a pardon for Belarusian opposition leader Andrei Sannikov and his former campaign aide Zmister Bandarenka.

The team worked with Sannikov’s lawyer in Belarus, Andrei Varvachevitch, and Freedom Now, an organisation co-founded by Hogan Lovells partner Jeremy Zucker that seeks to free non-violent prisoners of conscience through legal and political efforts.

Weiner said:  “We’re very pleased that our efforts have led to the release of two individuals who’d been wrongly convicted for engaging in what was clearly and objectively peaceful political discourse.”

Sannikov and Bandarenka had been arrested by police during the crackdown following Belarus’ presidential elections in 2010.

They joined tens of thousands of Belarusians gathered in central Minsk for a peaceful demonstration after polls closed on 19 December 2010. Sannikov addressed the protestors and urged them to remain peaceful. However, police beat many of the protesters, including Sannikov, who was arrested along with hundreds of other demonstrators. Bandarenka was arrested the following day.