Authorities Refuse to Mitigate Punishment to Professor Bandazhewski
In Belarus a prisoner who has spent a half of his term can count on change of restraint. After his case is considered by the court, such prisoner is transferred to an open penitentiary institution (for the persons punished with personal restraint). However, the authorities deny this indulgence to the world-known scientist Yury Bandazhewski.
In 2001 the rector of Homel Medical Institute Yury Bandazhewski and his colleague, Provost Uladzimir Rawkow, were punished with eight years of jail for alleged bribery. As a result of an amnesty, this term became a year shorter. This case is sometimes called “the case of Homel Medical Institute” or “the case of medics”. The scientific research of Yury Rawkow and his colleagues who studied the influence of radiation on human body didn’t comply with the state policy – in the middle of 1990-ies Belarusian government decided to use a part of the radiation-polluted territory for farming. Yury Bandazhewski’s research proved that the influence of small radiation dozes was harmful enough for all vital bodily organs.
The professor’s wife, Halina Siarheyewna Bandazhewskaya, talks about the situation:
-- They were to have transferred my husband to an open institution on 6 January, now it’s April. All measures concerning the change of restraint are to be taken during a month, but there are still no changes. In January a half of the prison term was over. The prisoners, who were kept together with my husband, are transferred one by one, except for him. A year ago the colony was visited by representatives of French and German Embassies. The head of the Committee on Punishment Execution Uladzimir Kowchur told them that in a year the restraint to Yury Bandazhewski would become milder as the first half of the prison term would be over. I half a year Mr. Heiken, OSCE Ambassador, also paid a visit there and heard the same things from Kowchur.
I went to the Committee on Punishment Execution to find about the situation. They answered that my husband had health problems – stomach ulcer and had been operated that’s why he couldn’t do the hard work those who were kept in open institutions did. Belarusian laws state that only disabled persons don’t work, but he is not a disabled!
Several days after my visit to the Committee colony workers came to my husband and said that he had to be examined at the republican hospital of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There he was kept since 2 till 9 March. He wasn’t found a disabled. Everyone has health problems when he is fifty, though.
-- Does your husband have any disciplinary admonitions?
-- Not any. His mother wrote to the head of the colony. In the answer it was said that he behaved well, executed all demands and had no admonitions.
Suddenly we find out that he can’t be transferred to an open institution “due to the state of health”. The state of health allows keeping him in isolation but prohibits the transfer. My husband wasn’t disabled when imprisoned and the latest examination didn’t find it either. He can work. We don’t insist that he should work as a doctor. He can work as any other prisoner, but the authorities are not going to do it.
-- Do you think there are no reasons for the refusal?
-- Yes, there are no reasons. They protract the time and, to my mind, have some motives for it. Most probably, they don’t want to let him out. Something incredible is going on with my husband. Maybe, they keep him lest he can be visited by journalists on the anniversary of Chernobyl tragedy, or similarly stall for time.
In January 2005 he will have the right for early release from jail, but I’m not sure in laws. When this time comes, many reasons can be found not to release him. For instance, it can be said that he didn’t compensate the material harm to the state and, as a result, would be deprived of the right to early release. I again find evidence of the lawlessness that rules our country. Even a slight indulgence for good discipline becomes inaccessible, leave alone reconsideration of the case.
We have filed a complaint to Geneva. I know that in the Middle of April the Committee on Human Rights will have a sitting and have some hope on this. I don’t find truth and justice here. I don’t even demand to reconsider the case or justification – simply let my husband out, as it stands in the law. But they deny us even this right.