Political prisoners for sale?

President Lukashenko, while giving a speech at the Eurasian University in Astana on his official visit to Kazakhstan, addressed issue of Belarusian political prisoners. He said he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of releasing from prison organizers of the protest against the rigged presidential election in December last year, informed Interfax news agency.

“We held accountable everyone in accordance with the law. But still, they keep crying – ‚political prisoners, release them‘! It seems to me, we have already let-off all but two, who were in the leadership. Probably we will discharge them too. There is no need to waste state money on keeping them in prison “- said the Belarusian President.

Journalists in Minsk in response to this speech questioned Lukashenka’s ability to count, as so far there has been so far 35 people sentenced to few years in prison camps for taking part in the December events. Also, prosecutor sought seven and eight years in prison for two former presidential candidates, Zmitsier Vusa and Mikalai Statkevich. The court will hand down the judgement in their case on Thursday.

Harry Pahaniayala, a well-known Belarusian lawyer says that at least in theory an annulment of the Belarusian political prisoners‘ sentences is possible, but he does not believe in the sincerity of Lukashenka’s intentions.

“I wouldn’t take seriously any of Lukashenka‘s speeches. He can say anything for different reasons. I can not exclude he said it because he wanted to present himself as a great democrat “- Harry Pahaniayla added, saying also that the regime of Alexander Lukashenka understands only the argument of sanctions.

It is possible that the recent developments around the Belarusian political prisoners were provoked by the decision announced by the European Bank for Reconstruction Development. Valdas Vitkauskasa, EBRD’s representative in Minsk, informed that the organization withdrew from the implementation of agreed earlier this year investment in Belrus‘ energy sector.

“Considering the unfavorable direction of political developments in Belarus following the elections in December 2010 and ongoing concern of the international community with the attitude of the authorities towards the political opposition, civil society and independent media, the EBRD Board of Directors decided to revise the operational approach to Belarus in the framework of the existing strategy” – announced Valdas Vitkauskasa, head of the EBRD in Minsk. This decision means millions of dollars in losses for the regime of Alexander Lukashenka

Michal Janczuk (TV Belsat)


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