Mikola Statkevich Granted First Leave in Six Months
Leader of Social Democrats Mikola Statkevich, who is serving the sentence of correctional labor in Pukhavichy district Minsk region, has been allowed to visit his sick father living in the city of Baranavichy, reports RFE/RL.
About 6 months ago Mikola Statkevich was transferred from Baranavichy camp to the village of Blon, Pukhavichy region. Since that time he hadn’t been granted a leave and was not allowed to meet with his sick father living in Baranavichy. The politician was not allowed to leave the place where he had to stay even during the Christmas holidays. However, late in the evening of January 26 Statkevich was invited to the office of the commandant and granted a leave until Monday, January 29.
Thus, that weekend Mikola Statkevich visited his father. On Monday, going back to Pukhavichy region, he met with his fellow party members from the Belarusian Social Democratic party (Narodnaya Hramada).Mikola Statkevich has two explanations for this sudden permission. Firstly, police officers were to react to reports of the media that he was not given a leave illegally. Secondly, the authorities are demonstrating a step to meet requirements of Europe, which demands to release political prisoners.
“It is possible that they are going to release some political prisoners in order to coax Europe, primarily Germany. It is possible my variant is also being considered. But frankly speaking, I would not like to be used like this. Kazulin is in a more difficult situation now. Let them release him. I have to serve only 6 months more, and I do not want to be a pawn in this game,” Mikola Statkevich told RFE/RL.
Mikola Statkevich planned to hold one of the meetings at Minsk railway station. He was waiting for a suburban electric train to Pukhavichy. However, at the noon on January 29 all people on the railway station were asked to leave the station for the time of a check. People were told that allegedly a telephone call about a bomb on the station had been received. As a worker of the railway station told later, a mine wasn’t found during the check.
In 2005 Mikola Statkevich was sentenced to two years of forced labor for staging a protest rally against Alexander Lukashenka’s regime. Belarusian human rights activists and Amnesty International recognized Mikola Statkevich prisoner of conscience.