THE RABOCHY EDITOR CONVICTED FOR SLANDERING THE PRESIDENT HAS ONE YEAR LESS TO SERVE
Since 16 December 2002 Viktar Ivashkevich, editor of The Rabochy newspaper has been serving his 2-year sentence in an open prison for slandering the President. On 4 June the RFE/RL reporter talked to Ivashkevich over the phone.
Ivashkevich: “Yesterday I signed a notification that I was granted an amnesty. It should have been granted last year, but was repeatedly postponed. Finally, they cut one year off my sentence. Thus, the maximum I’ll have to spend here is until 16 December 2003. In about 10 years it will be 6 months I’ve been here. In conjunction with the amnesty I will become eligible for parole. For now, the prison administration solicits for moving me to Minsk, closer to my parents. I’ve applied for that because my parents are ill. Being in Minsk I will be able to visit them more often. Yesterday two policemen came to my parents, informing them they had received the documents of me moving to Minsk. They said they needed to question my parents, neighbors and a local policeman whether I was a hoodlum, or an opposition member. My parents were quite upset and indignant at the fact that “hoodlum” and “opposition member” were stood right next to each other in their question.
I have no idea what the result of their “polling” was. Just recently, a week ago, my prison administration fined an inquiry if I could travel to Minsk on weekends to visit my parents. Our district police officer replied that because he did not know me personally, neighbors say nothing about me, and there are no records of me being a hoodlum, he did not think it was advisable to let me visit Minsk. Because of this specific position of our district police officer, I don’t really know whether they will move me to an open prison in Minsk. If the decision is positive, than it’s Minsk prison administration, who will make a decision on my parole. If the positive decision does not come within a month, the issue of my parole will be solved here, by the administration of Baranavichy prison”.