Political Prisoner Mikalay Autukhovich Released
The level of restriction has been changed for corrective labour to political prisoner and small businessman Mikalai Autukhovich. Mikalai Autukhovich speaks about his release in an interview to the Charter’97 press-center. He has already left Minsk for his home town of Vaukavysk.
“The measure of restraint has been changed for corrective labour for me. I will live at home. On Monday I will register at the police department of Vaukavysk. I do not know yet what job I will have,” Mikalai Autukhovich says.
According to Autukhovich, in October the commission on early conditional release refused to mitigate the sentence for him. But yesterday evening he was unexpectedly invited by the head of the prison to his office. He was to sign some papers, but nobody explained anything to him. Only in the morning a judge and a prosecutor arrived to the prison. Autukhovich was told that he was released.
Autukhovich still does not know how to explain his sudden release. “I thought that many political prisoners are at large. And now it turns out that I am alone who has been released. Maybe somebody will be released tomorrow? Or on Monday? Everything is possible,” he said.
Recalling the 2.5 years spent in jail, Autukhovich said:
“Prison is a place where nobody cares about anyone. If you keep low profile, nobody would pester you. I tried to be invisible, I communicated with my circle and spoke Belarusian… I was sure I would have to stay in jail the full term”.
Over the years spent in prison, Autukhovich has never been allowed to have an additional meeting with relatives or additional parcel. “When the end of the term was near, members of the “inter-parliamentary” commission offered conditions to better my lot. I didn’t accept them. Pressure was not permanent. But labour in the jail is slave labour. I was paid a little more then 2,000 BYR (less than 1 US dollar) for 26 working-days as a carpenter,” Autukhovich said.
As for his health condition, the former political prisoner says: “I should improve my health. I feel consequences of long hunger-strikes. I have developed pancreatitis."
Today the businessman returns to his home town of Vaukavysk. “I do not have my business as such. It has been ruined. I am not going to forgive that to anybody. But to restart business in our country today is stupid. They can seize everything again and imprison you,” he said.
The entrepreneur was arrested on October 14, 2005 and sentenced to 3.5 years of jail in a maximum security colony on a framed up charge with tax evasion. He was kept in a remand prison and from the first day of arrest was on hunger strike which lasted 74 (!) days. M. Autukhovich served a sentence in зкшўыт No. 1 of Minsk.
It was the regime who defined Autukhovich “a political prisoner”. When he was put on the wanted list, it was written in the documents that “M. Autukhovich has a negative attitude towards the existing political regime and the head of the state”.