Belarusian dissident, Zmitser Bandarenka, sentenced to two years in a high-security prison camp for organizing and participating in riots, underwent yesterday a complicated spine surgery. According to an official statement issued by the detention center, the operation was successful and the patient is in a good condition. The post-surgery rehabilitation will take place in prison. – Our facility is adjusted to it. Bandarenka has received proper medical treatment so far and he will continue to receive it. – it was written in the statement.
But Bandarenka’s family is concerned. According to them, in prison the medical treatment might not be that professional, which can impede Zmitser’s recovery.
Bandarenka, one of the coordinators of the „European Belarus“ campaign, was arrested on December 19th 2010, right after the demonstration against election fraud. The dissident had already suffered from back problems when arrested; but during his detention – his health condition deteriorated significantly. Volha – the prisoner’s wife – informed that Bandarenka has asked for medical help in February. He had not received it until June 22nd.
Bandarenka’s troubled surgery resonated throughout the Belarusian society. Human rights advocates and his family in dozens of letters, reported on Bandarenka’s situation and the police and doctors‘ passiveness. A group of supporters rallied in front of a hospital on the day when Bandarenka was scheduled for a surgery.
Hary Pahaniala, a human rights lawyer, told Belsat in an interview that doctors are obliged to inform the family about Bandarenka’s health condition. He also suggested that family has a right to file a complaint against doctors‘ and police actions and the court should consider mitigating the sentence.
On July 15th, the court dismissed Bandarenka’s motion for cassation of the sentence. According Pahaniala, the Ministry of Interior is hiding the information about Bandarenka‘s health, so that the Belarusian society does not realize the conditions in which prisoners are held.