As the economic situation is getting worse in Belarus Loukashenko is forced to go to extremes – negotiate financial support from the West. Yet, cooperation with the EU is only possible if all political prisoners are set free. There is an abyss behind him, so he has to make some steps forward: he has already pardoned 13 participants of the 19.12.2010 demonstration on their appeal.
Now pressure is being born upon those who remain in prison and refuse to ask for mercy. We regard this as a positive tendency, what causes our concern is the fact that at present the list of political prisoners only contains the names of the 19.12.2010 demonstration and the Mlady Front members arrested the day before. At the same time, activists convicted in connection with the so-called “Case of Belarus anarchists” arrested during the election campaign of the current president remain in custody.
Many human rights organizations (such as “Vesna”) note a lot of violations of the law and violations of the investigation procedure, the accused did not plead themselves guilty, and, nevertheless, they was sentenced to long terms.
Of course, actions, for which Anarchists have taken responsibility, involve a violation of the law; they are often associated with violent acts against the public or private property. Due to this, many human rights defenders do not include Anarchists into the general list of political prisoners. In this connection, we would like to notice, that the majority of those convicted after mass disorders, by objective reasons, committed violent acts against Government House or plain clothes policemen, who provoked a fight in the case of Dashkevich and Loban. The fact that before the arrest Dedok, Franckevich and Olinevich were unknown to the general public as social activists, should not affect the level of their support. Therefore, we believe that such a distinction between “real” political prisoners and all others is wrong. Moreover, the fact, that the authorities were trying to make Dedok and Franckevich sign petitions for pardon, suggests that the authorities themselves recognize them as political.
We are also concerned, that the case of the young people who attacked the KGB in Bobruisk is out of public attention. Evgeny Vaskovich, Artem Prokopenko and Pavel Syromolotov have been each sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for this desperate act. Obviously, this is a violation of the law and the guys confessed to the crime, but primarily we to think, what makes the young people use such methods of struggle and protest. In conditions, when any dissent is checked, when all attempts of peaceful protests are harshly suppressed, when free spreading of information is virtually impossible, it is no wonder, that thinking people do not see the point in peaceful actions and in non-violent resistance. We do not condemn and do not justify such actions; we are concerned that the authorities disproportionately harshly react to such violations. A person gets 7 years in prison for charred stairs of the KGB building with the total damage of 250,000 Belarus rubles, while for a murder, rape or robbery one can often receive a more lenient punishment.
We, the undersigned, call for the recognition of Nikolay Dedok, Alexander Franckevich and Igor Olinevich as political prisoners and demand their liberation and full rehabilitation along with the others imprisoned for political reasons. We also insist on a revision of the “Case of attack on Bobruisk KGB “and of the sentence which Evgeny Vaskovich, Artem Prokopenko and Pavel Syromolotov are serving now.