Mikalai Autukhovich turns 51: “You cannot fully understand freedom if you have never been in captivity”

2014 2014-01-08T20:02:58+0300 2014-01-08T20:02:58+0300 en http://spring96.org/files/images/sources/autuhovich-mikalaj.jpg
Mikalai Autukhovich. Photo by Yulia Darashkevich.

Mikalai Autukhovich. Photo by Yulia Darashkevich.

On 7 January political prisoner Mikalai Autukhovich turned 51. He has celebrated two previous birthdays in a cell on the ground floor of Hrodna prison.

Mr. Autukhovich was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment for "illegal possession and transportation of five cartridges and shotgun". In January 2012 he was transferred from maximum security penal colony No. 5 in Ivatsevichy to Hrodna prison as a persistent violator of the colony regulations. Despite the fact that during the prolonged detention in prison a former successful businessman and veteran of the war in Afghanistan has acquired many serious chronic diseases, he still insists that it is better to serve his term until then end (he is to be released in April) than to write a petition for clemency to the President.

"I have my own views”, wrote the political prisoner in a letter to one of his friends, “and I have never changed them in my life. I haven't done anything bad for the country and the people, haven't broken any laws, why should I apply for pardon?"

In another letter to a friend, passed to the editorial office of Radio “Liberty”, Mr. Avtukhovich explained his position: "Different people have various notions of freedom. If you have never been in captivity and have never been persecuted, you cannot wholly understand what freedom is. Being out of jail not always means feeling free. I understand it very well. You know it, too. The feeling of the relative freedom will continue increasing as long as lies is stronger than truth. It is impossible to pretend everything is alright, knowing that we are fed with lies. There are so many lies that it is impossible to hide them. Everything comes out in the light of God, and people are starting to understand why I believe that soon everything will start to wriggle back. People will be afraid to lie, as they will be punished for it. Everything is seen well enough from the above. I hope that Belarusians will soon be proud of their ancestors and history ..."

The archive of Radio “Liberty” stores a recording of a telephone call of the political prisoner from Ivatsevichy colony after the publication of some excerpts from his prison notes on the website of the radio station. Mr. Autukhovich said he was recording various stories while being kept behind bars, which would be enough for more than one book.