Political prisoners to be released?

Aliaksandr Lukashenka will consider the possibility of pardoning some convicted opposition politicians, he said at the conference on foreign-policy matters on April 5, 2012 in Minsk.

He noted that opposition forces should behave more decently while asking for something. «All the more so if you demand or ask for something from the president. One must not walk here with sticks in one’s hands and knock on the window,”» he said.

Mr. Lukashenka hit back at the families of his imprisoned political opponents for accusing him of failing to deliver on his promise to release the prisoners. «I warned that the matter of pardoning the so-called political prisoners depends, above all, on their appeal for a pardon. I said that in public at once. If you don’t want to make such an appeal, no one will consider your release. Stay in prison,» he was quoted as saying.

Mr. Lukashenka dismissed reports that some of the imprisoned had applied for his pardon as a result of torture and said that the people had appealed to him of their own accord. «I have been recently provided with information, including a video of them saying frankly and honestly that it was their own decision. Some of them, one or two, refused to lodge [a petition for pardon – Belsat]. OK, this is their choice. Let them serve their time in jail,» he said.

At the current moment 12 opposition politicians and civil activists who were recognises as political prisoners serve their sentences. Ex-presidential candidate Andrei Sannikau and his election agent Zmitser Bandarenka are known to have filed a petition for pardon addressed to Aliaksandr Lukashenka. There are some suspicions that the political prisoners were forced to do it by torture.



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