Minsk, 25 July. A judge of the Leninski District Court in Minsk on July 23 lifted all restrictions on the freedom of former presidential candidate Uladzimir Nyaklyayew.
Judge Volha Kotsur granted complete freedom to the prominent opposition politician in connection with the expiration of his suspended two-year prison sentence. The poet-turned-politician could have been sent to a correctional institution or had the suspension of his prison term prolonged.
Mr. Nyaklyayew had been told that the hearing would be held on July 25. When he arrived at the court on Thursday morning he learned that the hearing had taken place two days before in his absence and was notified of the judge’s ruling.
Moved to better ward
“This once again shows in what condition Belarus’ system of justice is,” Mr. Nyaklyayew told reporters referring to the hearing controversy.
The 67-year-old leader of the “Tell the Truth!” movement expressed his determination to continue “fighting for freedom in Belarus.” “By its decision the court has simply moved me from a separate to a common prison cell where entire Belarus is held. All of us in the country remain hostages, if not prisoners, of the regime,” he said.
Beaten and hijacked
Mr. Nyaklyayew expressed fears that he may be barred from running for president in the next election because of his conviction. “I still don’t know whether all of my civil rights have been restored. But I feel myself a free person and will act as a free person,” he stressed.
On May 20, 2011, a district judge in Minsk sentenced Mr. Nyaklyayew to a suspended two-year prison term with two years’ probation, finding him guilty of instigating disturbances in connection with the December 2010 post-election protest.
Life under control
Months later, a judge imposed a number of “additional restrictions” on Mr. Nyaklyayew’s freedom, prohibiting him from organizing or taking part in demonstrations, leaving Minsk without permission from law enforcement agencies and traveling abroad until the expiry of his sentence. He was also ordered to stay at home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Mr. Nyaklyayew challenged Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the December 2010 presidential election and was beaten unconscious by men in black uniform in Minsk half an hour before the closure of the polls on December 19 in an attack widely believed to have been masterminded by Mr. Lukashenka’s secret services. He spent more than a month in custody after the December 19 post-election street protest in Minsk before being released and placed under house arrest in late January 2011.
Authorities have refused to investigate the election-day attack on Mr. Nyaklyayew.