Secrete agent to be pardoned?

One of the persons pardoned by president Lukashenka out of the group of 9 people who participated in the December 19th demonstration is most probably Uladzimir Khamichenka, who earned a nickname among Belarusian dissidents „agent telephone“.

Khamichenka appeared on many photos taken during the opposition demonstration in front of the government building. On the pictures, he is trying to open the building doors with a crowbar, talking to his sleeve and fixing something in his ear, probably an earphone. Belarusian Internet users suspect that he was one of the KGB agents provocateurs sent to the demonstration.

Khamichenka was arrested and sentenced to three years in a high-security prison camp. He was also sent to an obligatory treatment for alcoholics. According to an opposition website Charter97, Khamichenka after being released from the prison camp, disappeared and did not return to his house in Slutsk.

Belarusian Ministry of Interior has not issued an official list of 9 people who were pardoned on August 11th. However, on August 13th Zmitser Drozd, an activist of Sannikov’s electoral campaign, Artsiom Hrybkov and Siarhey Kazkov from the European Belarus campaign were released from a prison camp in Bobruysk. Yaukhien Sekret, another activist working for Sannikov, was released from a prison camp in Mohylevo. Uladzimir Yaromenak was pardoned from doing time in Vitebsk prison camp. In Orshany, Vasil Prafiankov, a member of Belarusian Freedom Party and Young Front, was let go. Vital Matsukievich was granted celemency from staying in a prison camp in Novoplotsk. Also Matsukievich was accused of collaborating with KGB by the Internet users, who gave him a nickname „red nose“. There were photos posted online showing a headset in Matsukievich ear. Aleksander Kviatkievich was released from a prison camp in Ivatsevichy.

According to various media stories, 9 people granted clemency, had expressed their regrets and sorrow for their actions in letters to president Lukashenka. Some of them were pressured to do so by special forces.

Human rights activists believe that Aleksander Lukashenka can grant clemency even without official letters from the convicts. Therefore, there is also a chance that former presidential candidates – Andrei Sannikov, Mikolai Statkievich and Zmitser Vus, will be released from prisons too. Similar situation had place in 2006, when Lukashenka pardoned presidential candidate – Aleksander Kazulin, despite the fact that he had not asked for clemency.

Ales Lashings, a Belarusian political scientist, thinks that pardons are meant to be a double message – on one hand for the West – that Lukashenka is ready to hold a dialogue, and on the other – for the Belarusian society that the regime can dominate and break the political prisoners. – I believe that we cannot talk about liberalization process: this is just a game for the West and part of the society. Yet, it is still a very good news that those unjustly sentenced are now free. – he added.


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