Political Prisoner Ivan Kruk Gives Interview to euramost.org
Ivan Kruk was born in 1944 in the town of Kazhan-Haradok in Luninets district of Brest region in an Orthodox family. After finishing a primary school he served in the army in Hrodna and simultaneously received secondary education. In 1972 he finished the secondary school of police in Minsk. He worked as an investigator for more than 30 years. In 1987 was directed to Usbekistan, to an operative group for struggle against corruption. Spent some tome in Stepankert during an armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. After retirement was elected to Astravets distrct deputy soviet. Being a deputy maintained human rights activity in the region and participated in public and political campaigns. In May 2006 was sentenced to 6 months of jail on a fabricated case for alleged resistance to the police during an illegal search in his apartment. Spent his prison term in colony #13 in the town of Hlybokaie (Vitsebsk region).
- Ivan Fiodaravich, what are your feelings a month after your discharge?
- I feel that these 6 months of completely unfair punishment were not in vain. After my release I became more willful. I am in a cheerful mood and I am going to continue seeking justice by filing complaints and statements to different instances, informing people both in Belarus and abroad. The main aim is to show the forms and the methods by which the law machinery strengthens the political regime. I meet many people and feel great moral support. The people are grateful that I held out the pressure. Such example is very important for ordinary citizens.
- To your mind, what is the essence of the present political regime in Belarus?
- It can be shown quite well on my personal example. The law machinery and the secret services descended to immoral deeds. Using the criminal prosecution with the aim of pressurization for public, political and human rights activity, they at first fabricated a criminal case against my under-aged son who had allegedly stolen a theft from a private apartment. On 26 January 2006, under the pretext of search of the stolen money (100 000 rubles) they searched my flat. The search was aimed at me – they exacted leaflets and other non-prohibited information materials of political nature. Then they wanted to take away my computer, which even theoretically couldn’t have any relation to the case they had brought against my son. The real aim of such harassment was to intimidate me and isolate from the presidential election campaign of 2006. This regime tramples even the fundamental constitutional rights of citizens. It is convenient for it to have more former prisoners, as it is simpler to control them after discharge and they are limited in their public activity.
- Don’t you feel uptight?
- I try to follow the behests of my father, who was very honest, moral and religious man. He worked in an Orthodox church for 35 years. He taught me justice and Biblical commandments. I feel no hatred and malice towards the persons who persecuted me and my family and fabricated two criminal cases, but the people who have violated all moral principles and stepped over all legal norms must take the responsibility. I spoke about it during the investigation and in my last words at the trial. Some of them have already lost their positions. For instance, Valery Pretskaila is no longer the prosecutor of Astravets district. Sooner or later human and divine comeback follows.
- What people were near you during these six months and what is the prison air like?
- Prison laws are a closed field. Prisons are overcrowded. According to my calculations, half of the people kept there are either innocent or have received inadequate terms for minimal violations. The cells don’t meet the sanitary requirements. 10-16 persons are kept there. Often each prisoner has even less than 2 square meters. There has been established a system of moral suppression of human personality – frequent searches in the cells, bad nutrition, restriction of walks (the walking yard is a cell 9 x19 meters where 50 persons are kept at the same time). There are violent punitive measures – black-hole for a slightest violation of the regime, which keeps the prisoners in tension. As long as I was a political prisoner my cell-mates treated me friendly, with understanding. I was in the focus of attention, both from the side of the administration and the side of prisoners. I had to give consultative legal aid to prisoners. It’s worth mentioning that prisoners live in fear and are afraid of protecting their legal rights.
- Did you feel support from the outside?
- While in prison I received many letters with words of supports, including letters from abroad (England, Poland, Lithuania, USA, Belgium, Czech…) – all in all more than a hundred of letters and New Year and Christmas postcards. It helped me to cheer up and added strength. In the situation when I was imprisonment for the benefit of the interested duty officials I received support from every letter, for which I am sincerely grateful to all their authors. It is quite important that hard situation results in growth of solidarity. It was also important for the prison administration and the prisoners to see this support.
- What are your plans for the near future?
- I am not going to leave the country, though I have received such proposals. I am going to pass all court instances in court country with the aim to restore justice and show the forms and methods by which the law machinery terrorizes other-minded persons and public activists. In the case it brings no results I will apply to international instances for exposure of the regime and witnessing that human rights are violated in Belarus, thus making a step towards a new Nuremberg trial in Europe. I think I have a moral right to it.