The civil society activist, afghan war veteran and once accomplished businessman from Vaukavysk (Hrodna region) turns 51.
For the first time Mikalai 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 businessman was punished for his strong civic stand. After being released on parole in 2008 Mr Autukhovich continued with his civic intiatives and became a deputy chair of the Republic Veteran Movement.
On February 8, 2009 Mr Autukhovich was arrested again; in May, 2010 the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced the former entrepreneur 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 Mikalai Autukhovich was replaced by a tougher one: he was moved from the penal colony in Ivatsevichi to Hrodna prison No 1 where conditions of confinement are much more severe. Mr Autukhovich was found guilty of persistent violations of custodial control rules.
While serving his term Mikalai Autukhovich has been subjected to disciplinary action more than ten times. After attempting suicide in December, 2011 he wrote to his family: “I am not a person who enjoys such living as it was in 1937. I had to defend my honour to be a man, not an animal. But I did not have another way out because they had not heard and understood anything. I am asking you again – please, don’t worry, I am strong, I will survive even if I am alone versus the evil ”.
The political prisoner was repeatedly asked to address a petition for pardon to President Lukashenka, but he turned the proposal down.
In September 2013 Mikalai Autukhovich cut his stomach with a razor protesting against the prison administration’s illegal actions and abusive treatment. The reason for such a desperate move might have become his being reprimanded for … ‘the absence on his bunk on August 26, 2013’.
Mikalai Autuhovich is to leave prison in April, 2014.
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.
You can support the political prisoner with a letter:
Mikalai Autukhovich/Мікалай Аўтуховіч
230023 Беларусь, горад Гродна, вуліца Кірава 1, турма № 1
230023 Kirav Street 1, prison No 1, Hrodna, Belarus