Yury Istomin: Jail Filled with Only Opposition Activists
Yury Istomin, head of the United Civil Party Hrodna region organization, was released yesterday from Hrodna detention center. The politician was arrested twice before the European March. For the first time he spent 5 days behind bars. Some days later he was sentenced to another 7 days in jail. Both terms Yury Istomin was on hunger-strike protesting against unfair sentence.
“On the eve of the European March I wanted to go to Kyiv for a couple of days. I went to the railway station to buy a ticket. I was also going to meet my colleagues in a cafe. We had arranged about it on the phone. But the police was already waiting for us near the café. They detained me and my colleagues Zmitser Slutski and Viktar Sazonau. At first they drove us to take the blood alcohol test. We refused flatly. Than they guarded us to Leninski District Internal Affairs Department and there draw up a report that we allegedly had been using rude language. There was a quick and closed trial, where the policemen witnessed that we allegedly had behaved incorrectly in the café, used obscene language, and disturbed the visitors. The policemen were allegedly trying to calm us, but we didn’t react. But we even didn’t enter the cafe – they took us at the entrance! But the police testimony was enough for the judge to sentence me to 7 days, Slutski and Sazonau – to 5 days of jail”, - Yury Istomin told Charter’97 press center.
Istomin has no doubts that his colleagues and he were detained only for their intention to participate in the European March. The oppositionists were spreading the information about the March in Hrodna and were going to come to Minsk on October 14th.
After the trial Istomin, Sazonau and Slutski were placed in one cell. They immediately went on a hunger-strike in protest.
“The administration bosses began to visit us – from prosecutor’s offices, District Internal Affairs Department… They asked us why we were on hunger-strike. At last they permitted to pass mineral water to the jail”, - Istomin says.
The politician doesn’t say much about his 12 days of hunger-strike (two terms in succession 5 and 7 days). “It wasn’t very hard for me as I have some experience. I was on a 15-days political hunger-strike, but it was harder for my friends…”, - Istomin says.
According to the politician, the strikers won an important concession from the jail administration – three times a day they were brought boiling water. It was possible to get warmed with warm tea…
In general, Yury Istomin noted an interesting thing. On weekdays mainly the oppositionists arrested for the European March were sitting in Hrodna jail. “On weekend the real hooligans and rowdies were brought, but they set just a day and pay fine. In general, only the oppositionists were sitting in a half-empty jail. When Sazonau and Slutski were released, I was taken to another cell, and I served my term to the end with the BPF Party activist Mikola Lemianouski and “Magazyn Polski na uchodzstwie” editor Ihar Bantsar... “, - Yury Istomin said.