Mikalai Statkevich, a political prisoner and 2010 presidential candidate, managed to hand over answers to Deutsche Welle’s questions from Prison Nr 8 in the town of Zhodzina.
The politician, who has been behind bars for more than ten months, calls the charges brought against him ‘nonsense’ and makes mention of the attempts to exert pressure on him.
“In June 2020, when I was serving an ‘administrative’ term, the following methods were used: deprivation of sleep – they broke into the cell 5-7 times per night and tapped metal things with their truncheons; not allowing us to take a shower; barring us from watching TV programs, walking, reading,” he said.
In Zhodzina, the prison authorities seem to have opted for loudness, the man notes:
“Recordings of Lukashenka’s interviews, prisoners’ repentance, official instructions are played on the loudspeaker. The sound strength is so intense that one cannot hear the TV at its top volume. Such thing happens only in my cell. Sometimes they play those pieces all night long, turning down the volume a bit so as not to disturb the inmates in other cells.”
According to the political prisoner, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who is ‘illegitimate in our eyes and in the eyes of the world’, and his ‘economically insufficient’ regime will hardly be able to keep control over the country for long. In his opinion, the main reason for Belarusians’ failure to defeat the regime is the fact that the Kremlin keeps supporting Lukashenka.
In the nonconventional interview, Statkevich suggests that the pressure on Belarusian society will be ramped up and the country’s econimy will be slowly degrading. At the same time he stresses that changes for the better are imminent:
“In general, our people do have a bright future, because we have deserved it.”
Mikalai Statkevich has been behind bars since May, 31. On that day, the former political prisoner was rounded up by plainclothes men when he was going to a picket to collect signatures for wannabe presidential candidate Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya. On June 1, the opposition politician was punished with administrative detention (15 days in custody). Then a Minsk court sentenced Statkevich to another 15-day jail term. Later, criminal charges were brought against him and his associates. He is charged under Art. 13-1 and Art. 293-2 (‘preparation for participation in mass riots’), Art. 293-3 (‘training persons and other kinds of prepping for participation in mass riots’) of the Criminal Code. A few days ago, Statkevich was reported to be kept in custody for another two months – until 29 May.
In the wake of the 2010 presidential election, Mikalai Statkevich, one of the strongest rivals of Alyaksandr Lukashenka, was arrested, then convicted and sentenced to 5.5 years of imprisonment. He went at large only in the summer of 2015.