Lukashenka released 4 political prisoners: more than 20 remain in jail

2011 2011-09-02T17:25:34+0300 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

On 2 September Aliaksandr Lukashenka granted parole to four participants of the peaceful protest action against the rigged presidential election held on 19 December 2010.

Aleh Hnedchyk, Ales Kirkevich, Andrei Pratasenia and Zmitser Daronin were released as a result. All of them are less than 30 years old and are not prominent political or public activists. Recently Lukashenka has also granted parole to nine other people.

At the same time, three candidates for the presidential position are still kept in prison: Andrei Sannikau, Mikalai Statkevich (it's his second politically motivated conviction) and Zmitser Uss. Two more candidates received criminal punishment: Uladzimir Niakliayeu (severely beaten by unknown persons on the Election Day) was sentenced to two years of imprisonment with two-year determent, Vital Rymasheuski – to two years of conditional imprisonment. Rymasheuski's electioneering agent, co-Chair of the organizing committee of the Belarusian Christian Democracy Pavel Seviarynets, was sentenced to three years of personal restraint (the second politically motivated conviction). Well-known journalist Iryna Khalip, Andrei Sannikau's wife, was sentenced to two years of jail with two-year determent as well. Her colleague Natallia Radzina escaped from Belarus after being released from the KGB jail under a written recognizance not to leave and asked for political asylum in Lithuania. One more presidential candidate, Ales Mikhalevich, fled as well and asked for political asylum in the Czech Republic.

Another active opponent of Lukashenka's regime, Chair of the Young Front Zmitser Dashkevich, was detained before the Election Day together with his friend Eduard Lobau. A criminal case for beating a passer-by was fabricated against them. As a result, Dashkevich was sentenced to 2 years of imprisonment, Lobau – to 4 years. According to our information, Dashkevich and other prisoners were repeatedly subject to humiliating and degrading treatment, some of which can be qualified as torture.

Searches in the apartments of civil and political activists continue on a regular basis. People are also summonsed for “talks” to the KGB.

Last but not least, well-known human rights defender, Chair of the Human Rights Center Viasna and vice-Chair of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) Ales Bialiatski was arrested and put in custody. A criminal case was brought against him under Article 243, part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus, “concealment of profits on an especially large scale”.

Being an unregistered organization, Viasna couldn't hold any bank accounts in Belarus. As a result, Ales had to open bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland. He knew that the Lithuanian and the Polish authorities passed to the Belarusian authorities information about these bank accounts and that a criminal case was brought against him. However, he decided to stay in Belarus despite the danger of imprisonment.

According to information of the Bulgarian authorities, Lukashenka promises to release all political prisoners by the middle of October, but there is still much doubt about it given the number of the people who are still kept in jail for nothing.