Siarhei Kavalenka at liberty

He was released on the evening of September 26. Now Siarhei and his wife Alena are at his mother’s place, she told journalists. Siarhei’s son was very glad to see the father, but daughter Viktoriya did not recognise him.
News site got in touch with Kavalenka. Yesterday at 8 pm he was released and taken to the railway station, a ticket to Vitsebsk train having been already bought, he said.
“When I came home from the north, after work under a rotation system, I felt as if I had never left, as if I went out yesterday. Now I have the same feeling – as if I left home only yesterday and today I have returned home again,” the political prisoner said.
According to Siarhei Kavalenka, another political prisoner, Pavel Syramolatau, is to be freed from imprisonment.
In May 2010 Siarhei Kavalenka received three-year suspended sentence for hanging out a white-red-white flag on the 40-meter New Year Tree in the center of Vitsebsk. This action was defined as «major violation of public order».On December 19, 2011 Kavalenka was arrested in connection with criminal proceedings under Art. 415 of the Criminal Code (evasion of liberty restraint service). On December 20, 2012 Siarhei Kavalenka started hunger-striking in protest.
On February 24, 2012 the Pershamayski district court in Vitsebsk chaired by judge Alena Zhuk sentenced the oppositionist to two years and one month in a low security correctional institution on a charge of violating probation rules.
The court started the consideration of case upon Kavalenka’s cassational appeal on April 10, 2012. Then a panel of Vitsebsk regional court ordered that Siarhei Kavalenka should be subjected to comprehensive mental examination in hospital environment and the oppositionist was moved to Navinki psychiatric hospital in Minsk district.
On April 13, 2012 Siarhei Kavalenka quit hunger-striking. According to his wife, the political prisoner made this step not to be found insane. But Kavalenka resumed it on May 8, 2012: he reiterated his protest against the unrighteous sentence and demands the release of all the political prisoners as well as using the national white-red-white flag and Pahonya emblem. On May, 2012 Kavalenka was moved to Mahiliou penal colony №19.
Kavalenka’s only crime was planting a banned Belarus national white-red-white flag on top of a Christmas tree in Vitebsk.
In June 2012 Siarhei Kavalenka filed a petition for pardon addressed to Aliaksandr Lukashenka under the colony administration’s pressure. They promised that he would have come back home by July 3. He wrote to the president one line and a half: “I ask you to release me”.
Siarhei Kavalenka was mostly pressurized during his stay in a disciplinary cell for alleged violation of service order, his wife said. “There were very poor conditions: the roof leaked, the window was broken, and when it was raining water flew into the cell. To avoid freezing he had to get up and do exercises 5-6 times a night. It was the time when he was visited several times a day and required to lodge a petition for pardon.They wanted him to state that he had performed a petty crime although in reality it had been a political action,” Alena Kavalenka said.
According to her, it was the penal colony head who placed much pressure on him. “He pushed him saying: your son is left fatherless. He also said that as colony officers would not receive bonuses they would lack money on sweets for their children because Siarhei refuses to appeal for pardon. Later they asked him to write only “I ask to pardon me” without admitting his guilt,” she said.
The daughter did not recognise his father
“He wants to be with his family and bring his son up. He realises that time moves on and his son is growing without the father,” Alena Kavalenka said and stressed that their son was very glad to see his father but their daughter did not recognise him.
Prediction fulfilled
Political analyst Valer Karbalevich predicted Kavalenka’s release in his interview to Belsat TV on September 25. But he could not foresee that it would happen so soon.
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