Accessibility links

Breaking News

Jailed Belarusian Activist Faces Review For 'Closed Regime'

Jailed Belarusian activist Mikalay Autokhovich
Jailed Belarusian activist Mikalay Autokhovich
MINSK -- A jailed Belarusian activist will face a review to decide if he will be sent to a stricter penitentiary for violating his "labor camp's internal order," RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Paval Sapelka, the former lawyer of jailed activist Mikalay Autukhovich, told journalists on January 13 that on January 17 a mobile court will hold hearings in a labor camp in the southwestern town of Ivatsevichy, where Autukhovich is serving his prison term, to decide if he should be transferred to a "closed regime" penitentiary.

A similar court session held in labor camp No. 17 in the eastern town of Shklou ruled on January 12 that jailed former presidential candidate Mikola Statkevich must be transferred to the "closed regime" prison for three years due to his "constant violation of the labor camp's internal regulations."

"Closed regime" means being kept in a cell around the clock with increased restrictions on exercise, visits, mail, and other privileges.

Sapelka said that "in fact, Autukhovich's trial next week will be a process similar to one faced by Statkevich on [January 12]. There will be no witnesses and no relatives in the [makeshift] courtroom inside the labor camp."

Autukhovich currently has no legal representative as Sapelka was disbarred in March after agreeing to represent jailed presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau.

Autukhovich and his three co-defendants were convicted in May 2010 on charges of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition. Autukhovich was sentenced to five years and two months in jail.

The four were originally charged with preparing terrorist acts against officials in their hometowns of Vaukavysk, Hrodna, and Minsk. Those charges were later dropped.

Autukhovich and his colleagues say the cases against them are politically motivated.

Autukhovich has been repeatedly placed in solitary confinement while serving his prison term for his hunger strikes and other forms of protests challenging his sentence. The penitentiary officials classified his behavior as a "violation of the labor camp's internal order."

Last month Autukhovich attempted to commit suicide by slashing his wrists. He was then placed in a so-called "closed regime premises" (PKT) in the labor camp for one month as punishment for his suicide attempt.

A transfer to PKT means an inmate spends all day and night in a cell either alone or with one or two cellmates. The convict is usually allowed one hour per day to walk outside in a walled square.

Amnesty International considers Autukhovich a prisoner of conscience.

Read more in Belarusian here

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.