Eduard Lobau: I have to look around and decide what to do next
The Minsk office of the Belarusian Popular front hosted today the first press conference of former political prisoner Eduard Lobau, who was released yesterday after serving four years of imprisonment in penal colony No. 22 in Ivatsevichy.
When talking to reporters, Eduard Lobau expressed his opinion about the possible release of the last political prisoner convicted over 2010 post-election protest, Mikalai Statkevich:
“It is difficult, of course, to tell why Statkevich is imprisoned for so long. Most likely he will be held until presidential election is over. But in the case of any other external political situation, he may be released early, as it was, for example, with Ales Bialiatski.”
Lobau also said that he had the opportunity to be released a few years ago when he was asked three times to write a petition for clemency, but he refused, as he believed that he was innocent, and because this regime was hostile to him. Eduard Lobau has been subjected to preventive supervision for a period of one year, but he knows nothing about the restrictions, since he has not yet registered with the police.
Remembering the trial of March 24, 2011, when he and Dzmitry Dashkevich faced criminal charges, Eduard noted: “This trial was a pure formality, because from the beginning it was known who and how long will get and it was known that this case was completely trumped up. In general, I did not view this as a trial.”
The pormer political prisoner elaborated on the detention conditions in the Ivatsevichy penal colony. According to him, his relations with other prisoners were normal. Prison officials knew why he was held there and sometimes invited him for conversations. Lobau felt little pressure as a political prisoner, although he received 18 penalties over four years, was repeatedly placed in solitary confinement. He said that the conditions of his detention in the colony, where he was serving his term, were common, but admitted that he had nothing to compare, as he has never been held in other colonies. However, when you consider that now it is the 21st century, they are unacceptable.
Speaking about health care, Lobau told that he asked for treatment with on a number of occasions and the assistance he received was satisfactorily, while those who had complex or chronic diseases complained about the prison doctors. As for nutrition, it was common for such institutions: porridge for breakfast, soup for lunch, pasta or porridge with a sausage or potatoes with fish or sauerkraut for dinner. “As I understand it, this food is given only to maintain vital functions. Such amounts are just enough for this,” concludes Lobau.
Eduard Lobau said that there were a lot of people who were critical of the current government. Many with whom he was acquainted in the colony shared his political views. Almost half of the prisoners were negative towards Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
The former political prisoner also spoke about the Belarusian army. In particular, he spoke about his idea of an army in Belarus: “We need a contract-based, professional army, which will gain experience for years. And yet, a large number of soldiers, thanks to government propaganda, view Russia as something close to us. And this, in my opinion, is the moment of national threat. In the case of a Russian aggression against Belarus, we cannot count on them, they can go on the enemy side. If something changes, if the regime changes, I plan to go to the army.”
Speaking of his plans for the future, the former political prisoner says that he has no specific plans: “I need to look around and decide what to do next, where to work”.