Political prisoner Syarhei Tsikhanouski says he is losing vision behind bars

The jailed blogger Syarhei Tsikhanouski has complained of vision impairment in a letter to one of his Homiel-based friends.

Tsikhanouski says he is trying to pay heed to his friends’ advice and take care of himself.

“But we are just prisoners, and nothing depends on us. It depends on someone’s health. Generally I am fine, but I was very worried before, because I had hypertension issues, I had my pressure measured – it was even 180/100. And due to high blood presure my vision got worse… Now my case is in court, so there is nothing to worry about. It is quite clear to me what I am going to face – a transfer and imprisonment in a penal colony for a long time,” the political prisoner wrote in the letter.

In addition, Tsikhanouski quotes Byron’s lines about prison: “It is me who should have written these lines, they are about us.”

According to him, they had ‘walks’ behind bars, but they take place in a concrete courtyard, from where even the sky cannot be seen.

In late May 2020, Syarhei Tsikhanouski was detained in Hrodna at a picket to collect signatures for his wife Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya as a presidential candidate.

The blogger is accused of ‘organising mass riots’ (Article 293 of the Criminal Code), ‘organisation of group actions that violate the public order’ (Article 342), ‘obstruction to exercising electoral rights’ (Article 191) and ‘inciting hatred’ (Article 130).

Since June 24, the following political prisoners have been tried in Homiel pre-trial detention centre behind closed doors: Syarhei Tsikhanouski, Ihar Losik, Mikalai Statkevich, Uladzimir Tsyhanovich, Artsyom Sakau, and Dzmitry Papou. The defendants in the so called Tsikhanouski case are accused of organising mass riots, actions, flagrantly violating public order, and inciting social hatred in Belarus during the preparation and holding of the presidential elections.

Even the relatives of the accused are not allowed to the hearing to ‘ensure the safety of participants of the trial and protect secrets protected by law’. However, the officials do not give any official explanations for such measures.