The civil society activist from Vaukavysk celebrates his 50th birthday behind bars. He still remains unforgotten by Vaukavysk residents; his mother waits for his returning although the woman has little hope for the son’s early parole.
Mikalai pulled himself up by his own bootstraps and never turned his back on other people, Liliya Autukhovich says.
“They came and handcuffed him, and he could do nothing with it. They have still been torturing him. I am not aware of his health after the hunger strike because I have not seen him. What health a man could have after a three-month hunger-strike… He may see the Sun only for half an hour a day. He is strong but he did not know himself if he would survive,” Liliya Autokhovich stresses.
For the first time Autukhovich was convicted for tax evasion in 2005 and sentenced to three and a half years of imprisonment. That particular court verdict both abroad and domestically was widely considered as ‘political.’ Many believed that the Vaukavysk businessman was punished for his strong civic stand. After being released on parole in 2008 Autukhovich continued with his civic intiatives and became a deputy chair of the Republic Veteran Movement.
On February 8, 2009 Autukhovich was arrested again; in May, 2010 the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced the former entrepremeur to five years and two months of imprisonment in a medium security penal colony under the Criminal Code’s Article 295, which penalizes the illegal handling of arms, ammunition and explosives, because of five hunting rifle cartridges found in his safe. Human rights defenders note that the sentence might well have been awarded in retaliation for Mikalai Autukhovich’s fighting against public corruption in the region.
Later the punitive measure for Autukhovich was replaced by a tougher one: he was moved from the penal colony to a prison where conditions of confinement are much more severe. Autukhovich was found guilty of persistent violations of custodial control rules.
In 1981 Mikalai Autukhovich started serving in the army in Russia. After finishing a school of warrant officers he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. He was awarded with an order and two medals for guarding the bridge near Kandahar and participation in other military operations. In 1991 he left the army and started running his own business in Vaukavysk, Hrodna region.
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