Lukashenko frees six Belarusian political prisoners

Дата: 23 August 2015
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President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko pardoned six Belarusian political prisoners.

This is reported by the Belarus Partisan (Belarusian Guerilla) Belarusian news outlet, referring to the press service of the Belarusian President.

Based on the principle of humanism, the President of Belarus decided to pardon and release from prison Mikalay Dedkov, Ihar Olinevich, Mikalay Statkevich, Yauhen Vaskovich, Artsyom Prokopenko, and Yury Rubtsov,” the press service reports. 

“Mikalay Statkevich, perhaps, is one of the most famous political prisoners in Belarus. As of now, he is the only former presidential candidate, who was imprisoned and did not write petition for pardon. In 2010, during the election race, he advocated that secondary and higher education should have been introduced in Belarus in line with the EU standards, while the compulsory distribution of graduates should have been eliminated as a form of legalized serfdom,” the Belarus Partisan writes.

Moreover, Statkevich is sure the country’s legislation should be reformed, “so people can work calmly and pay taxes honestly.”

As a reminder, Statkevich was detained on the election day after the special police forces had cracked down brutally on the protest. When being locked up in the KGB (State Security Committee) jail, the candidate refused to give evidence and went on hunger strike for 23 days.

The candidate was accused of organizing riots. Statkevich did not admitted guilt in the court. May 26, 2011, he was sentenced to six years in high-security prison.

Mikalay Dedkov was convicted in the case of anarchists. Vaskovich was arrested on suspicion of attempted arson of the KGB building in Bobruisk using bottle-based improvised incendiary weapons in October 2010. Artsyom Prokopenko and Pavel Syromolot shared the defendants’ bench with him. Ihar Olinevich was sentenced to eight years in high-security colony in the case of anarchists in 2011.

International response

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland said the decision to release political prisoners was important.

I have been informed today that six political prisoners in Belarus, including Mr. Mikalay Statkevich, were freed by the decision of President Lukashenko. I welcome this important decision, which is finally moving in the right direction,” the Ukrayinska Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) Ukrainian news website quotes the statement of the Secretary General.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe is sure that political prisoners and prisoners of conscience should disappear from the European history.

Thorbjørn Jagland has called on the leadership of Belarus to declare the moratorium on the death penalty which will “make Belarus closer to the European democratic family and our standards.”

Meanwhile, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn in their joint statement described the release of prisoners as progress in the efforts to improve relations between the EU and Belarus.

They hope that the Minsk authorities will remove all restrictions on the full exercise of civil and political rights of the released persons.

This is a belated move and they should have never been imprisoned in first place. Presidential elections key for reassessing relation,” President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has posted on Twitter.

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