Updated at 18:53,10-09-2021

“This is an attempt through torment and worsening of conditions to press on political prisoners“


Measures, which the prison administration uses to break down the former presidential candidate Mikalai Statkevich, are illegal. That's how human rights defenders commented in an interview to UDF.BY the political prisoner's transfer to a closed prison.

On January 12 the judge of Shklou District Court Vitaly Volkov sentenced Mikalai Statkevich to 3 years in a closed prison. This is the first Belarus' case of transferring the political prisoner from the colony in a cell-type prison.

The formal reason for this verdict were violations of the rules of custodial control, allegedly committed by Statkevich. He had no label with a number of prisoner on his clothes, and also didn't put in a list of personal belongings a handkerchief.

According to human rights defender Harry Pahanyajla, the disobedience of Statkevich, who considers himself innocent, may be regarded as a form of resistance.

"I think Statkevich was sentenced illegally, his presence in prison, respectively, is illegal, and any measures that are applied to him by the local administration in order to break him, to force to the established order, are illegal", the human rights defender said.

Lawyer Vladimir Labkovich defines today's sentence to Statkevich as an indicator of further pressure and further crack down on political prisoners.

"This is unprecedented case against a political prisoner in Belarus: the regime was not only illegally sentenced to a criminal liability for years, but at the same time continues an attempt to break down his will morally and physically right now", Labkovich said. He noted, the same fate awaits in the near future and another political prisoner - Vaukavysk businessman Mikalai Autukhovich. Human rights defenders are also concerned about the situation with Andrei Sannikov, who has no possibility to meet with a lawyer and sends strange letters to his relatives.

"We are certainly noting, this is unprecedented and a terrible attempt through torment and worsening of conditions to continue moral and physical pressing on the political prisoners", Vladimir Labkovich said.

Human rights defenders stressed, the decision of Shklou Court could be appealed in accordance with the law. They expressed confidence that the lawyer of Mikalai Statkevich will apply all necessary legal measures to the sentence.

"Because today's verdict and all the previous sentences that were given to Statkevich, are equally illegal", Vladimir Labkovich said.

Harry Pahanyaila then wonders, what human rights defenders and the public can do in this situation.

"Consolidated actions are needed, solidarity with convicted on politically motivated charges. And perhaps, if these actions are consistent, powerful, then they will cause some reaction of the authorities", Pahanyajla said.