Autukhovich: four years behind bars

Today is a sad anniversary for the Afghan war veteran: on February 8, 2009 he was imprisoned for the term of 5 years and 2 months.
Before going to jail Mikalai Autukhovich ran his own prosperous business in Vaukavysk. But combating corruption in Hrodna region he happened to be in the local authorities’ path…
In May, 2010 the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced the former businessman 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.
Unfortunately, it is not the first time the activist has been deprived of liberty. In 2006 he was put into prison for 3.5 years, with his property being seized. Autukhovich was recognised prisoner of conscience. After Europe and the United States introduced harsh sanctions on Belarus the political prisoners were released.
Mikalai Autukhovich repeatedly went on hunger strikes in protest. The one which lasted three months nearly cost him his life.
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