Mikalai Autukhovich who was released from Hrodna prison yesterday told Belsat Tv about confinement conditions in prison, his health state, plans and attempted suicide.
‘I felt very nervous about my family because they had a lot to bear, much more than I had. My wife never asked for anything. It was very difficult to realize that nobody could help your family,’ Mr Autukhovich says.
The ex-political prisoners started learning the Belarusian language: ‘Maybe I have not learnt it yet but I set my sights on it. Why did I decide for learning the language? I am monitoring the events in the country and see people’s aspirations. I also want it to be our language’.
According to Mr Autukhovich, he has serious health problems: ‘My arm is going numb, my teeth, head, stomach ache, I don’t know why. I have spent this day consulting doctors. There are no consequences of cutting the stomach. By this act I tried to gain my human dignity. There was no other way for a human being to remain a real man. Firstly I went on hunger strike, then ventured upon such a drastic step.’
‘What frightens most is that people [in prison] agree to do anything they are ordered. They are even ready to kll another man, few would refuse,’ Mr Autukhovich stressed.
Mikalai Autukhovich intendes to be engaged in public activity. ‘They prevent me from doing anything else. It’s impossible to do business: one should swindle to get income; it is impossible to earn money honestly [in Belarus]. I am going to be engaged in public activity. If tt is closely linked with politics one becomes a politician. In Belarus everything which runs counter the authorities is associated with politics,’ he said.
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 the town of Vaukavysk, Hrodna region.
When his business (taxi service) started boosting Vaukavysk officials dropped some strong hints that under-the-table payments were expected from Mr Autuhovich. But instead of bribing officials, the businessman began to collect information on the town’s web corruption. There is every likelihood that the head of Hrodna State Security Department (KGB) got into the act as well; it is Mr Autukhovich’s anti-corruption activity that was the main reason of putting him behind bars. Prison turned out to be a way of neutralizing the man of principle.
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.