Mikalai Autukhovich, a human rights defender and former political prisoner, has published an open letter to Alyaksandr Lukashenka on Facebook. The activist demands the first and still the only president of Belarus should resign within 30 days.
According to the letter, Lukashenka has been ‘illegally holding power in Belarus for 25 years’. Autukhovich blames the head of state for electoral fraud, failed economic policy, lawlessness.
“I am arriving at a hard, but carefully weighed decision to take responsibility for the future developments which I have planned and prepared for many years in prison as well as over the past few years after the release. I am delivering an ultimatum to this regime on my own behalf and on the behalf of the team of like-minded people who are willing to stand by my side in the fight against lawlessness,” the ex-political prisoner said.
УЛЬТИМАТУМ Гражданин Лукашенко А.Г.!25 лет вы незаконно удерживаете власть в Беларуси. Вы завели страну в…
Autukhovich urges Lukashenka to make public the ‘real results of his 25-year rule’, give the ‘stolen money’ back to the state budget, release political prisoners and all the wrongfully convicted, as well as announce his resignation.
If the regime keeps using the same violent methods, Authukhovich reserved the right to ‘start the mechanism of restoring justice’.
The man failed to specify which ‘mechanism’ he might resort to, but promised to release a number of letters that would clarify the situation.
Almost a year ago, Mikalai Autukhovich went into hiding; he changed the place of residence and does not use mobile phones. According to him, the Belarusian special services are set to fabricate a new criminal case against him.
In 1981 Mikalai Autukhovich started serving in the army in Russia. After finishing a school of warrant officers he volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. He was awarded with an order and two medals for guarding the bridge nearKandahar and participation in other military operations. In 1991 he left the army and started running his own business in the town of Vaukavysk, Hrodna region.
When his business (taxi service) started boosting, Vaukavysk officials dropped some strong hints that under-the-table payments were expected from Mr Autuhovich. But instead of bribing officials, the businessman began to collect information on the town’s web corruption. There is every likelihood that the head of Hrodna State Security Department (KGB) got into the act as well; it is Mr Autukhovich’s anti-corruption activity that was the main reason of putting him behind bars.
On February 8, 2009 Mr Autukhovich was arrested again; in May, 2010 the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced the former entrepreneur 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 offive hunting rifle cartridges found in his safe. Human rights defenders noted that the sentence might well have been awarded in retaliation for Mikalai Autukhovich’s fighting against public corruption in the region. In August 2014, he was released from prison.