Political prisoners released in Belarus
This Saturday, president Lukashenko pardoned Mikalai Dziadok, Ihar Alinevich, Yauhen Vaskovich, Artsiom Prakapenka, Yury Rubtsou and Mikalai Statkevich. The latter ran for president during the last presidential election. The International human rights defenders' community has declared all six to be prisoners of conscience as their imprisonment was motivated by their affiliation with political and human rights issues.
The Danish Institute for Human Rights has been working in Belarus since 2008, and sees the release of all six prisoners as a positive step.
“We welcome this decision warmly. First of all, it is of course a big relief for all six, for their families, friends and colleagues. Also, steps like this makes it easier for the international community to engage in dialogue with Belarusian authorities, which is important, in conveying the change we wish for,” says Evguenia Klementieva, programme manager for Eurasia at the Danish Institute for Human Rights.
The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for October 11th. Evguenia Klementieva, and the institute’s partners, see a direct link between the amnesty and the upcoming elections.
“There is no doubt that this decision is directly linked to the upcoming presidential election. Nevertheless, we welcome it and truly hope that this will become a first step towards more open Belarus with respect for human rights and rule of law,” Evguenia Klementieva ends.