Opposition politician Statkevich complains of renewed pressure from prison administration

Opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich has complained of renewed pressure from the administration of Prison No. 4 in Mahilyow...


Opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich has complained of renewed pressure from the administration of Prison No. 4 in Mahilyow, where he is serving his six-year prison sentence, BelaPAN said.

Mr. Statkevich and his wife, Maryna Adamovich, had a phone conversation on February 8.

"The conversation was brief. Mikalay spoke about the latest news in concise, telegraphic-style phrases," the website www.statkevich.org quoted Ms. Adamovich as saying.

Mr. Statkevich reportedly told his spouse that the prison administration had attempted to place a suspicious inmate into his cell. According to the politician, fellow inmates described him as a "specially trained former officer of security services notorious for his brutal attitude to cellmates, for abusing and beating them."

In addition, Mr. Statkevich revealed to his wife that he was threatened with punishment for "exercising psychological pressure" on the prison administration.

"Hopefully, the administration will observe laws rather than engage in lawlessness," Ms. Adamovich concluded.

Mr. Statkevich linked the new wave of pressure to his fresh refusal to apply to Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a presidential pardon.

Earlier this year, the politician was urged again by authorities to ask for Mr. Lukashenka's pardon.

Mr. Statkevich, currently 56, has been in prison for more than two years now. In May 2011, a district judge in Minsk sentenced him to six years in a medium-security prison, finding him guilty of organizing "mass disorder" in connection with a post-election protest staged in the Belarusian capital city on December 19, 2010.

In a trial that took place in a prison in Shklow, Mahilyow region, on January 12, 2012, a judge found Mr. Statkevich guilty of violating prison rules and ordered him placed in a higher-security correctional institution for three years.

The charge was brought against Mr. Statkevich because of his missing number tag and failure to mention handkerchiefs among his personal items.

Since January 2012, Mr. Statkevich has been held in a two-man cell in Mahilyow's prison.

So-called political prisoners can be released, including before the expiration of their terms, in accordance with the law, Mr. Lukashenka said at a news conference on January 15. When asked why he was holding his political rivals in prison, including former presidential candidate Statkevich, the Belarusian leader said that there were no political rivals to him there. “He [Statkevich] is no rival to me,” he said. “There were 10 candidates for President [in 2010]. What of that? What makes him my rival or opponent?”