Autukhovich: Don’t ask me why I did not plea for mercy

About three dozen people met Mikalai Autuhovich near Hrodna prison. Relatives and journalists had been waiting for the whole night – the gate was opened at 8 a.m. The former political prisoner asked them not to ask many questions and promised to describe everything later. He is going to meet his wife and mother today. Autuhovich will also need to visit the doctor – he can hardly feel his arm.

They couldn’t even release me without tricks. They did not tell me the time. They brought the bags to the gate and waited for the car to leave to bring them out as soon as possible. I asked them: “Why are you doing it, guys?” They could not even release me normally.

I cannot feel my arm. It is growing numb. I don’t know what it may be. We will find it out.

They suggested that I pled for mercy twice. Why did I refuse? Are you joking? Don’t ask me such questions. I cannot sign agreements with those who imprisoned me. I told them: I will not work for you and do not give me any work to do. No documents, no papers. It is silly to plea for mercy. You will plea for mercy and they will mock at you later and call you a wimp.

I did injure myself in prison. It is a long story. It was a matter of honour. Nobody exercised open pressure on me, they chose other ways. I complained about all the incidents and representatives of the administration were summoned to court as witnesses. I asked them questions and they did not know how to conduct themselves in court. They had not even agreed in advance. I was sent to a punishment cell for three days after injuring myself in the stomach. They did not touch me in the last months before the release.

I feel sorry for my mother and family. I am not going to discuss my plans for the future now.

I learnt Belarusian in prison. I can speak it now. However, I am still not very good at it and I’d rather not make mistakes in front of you. Let me practice a bit and everything will be okay.

The cellmates were complex people. Everyone had their own task. One was a policeman, a former district police officer. No wonder he kept reporting me. Then they brought another person – a spitfire.  They expected that there would be conflicts. There were conflicts but we managed to get on well soon. We only quarrelled twice or thrice. Sometimes people came to calm him down. The third cellmate was an instigator. I refused to stay in the same cell with him and they put me in a punishment cell.

 There were different warders. Some of them were normal. I asked to be put in a single cell but they told me that it was not possible. They even allowed me to bring some equipment to the cell so that I would not lodge complaints to the public prosecutor's office. They were afraid to put me in a single cell for some reason.

Five cartridges and a grenade launcher were mentioned in my sentence. It was said to have been found in Hrodna when I was already in prison. I could not be imprisoned for the five cartridges I had bought legally. But they did everything to imprison me for 5 years.

 I received 2292 letters. The last two arrived yesterday. I got acquainted with many people thanks to this correspondence. I would like to thank them for their support. It was very important. It would have been much harder if no one had been writing to me.

How should political prisoners be supported? I do not want to talk about it now. Political prisoners do not expect the measures that are being taken... Ask representatives of the opposition. They know what should be done.

They will not leave me alone. I said this in prison in the morning: I will head for the market when I’m released. I will bring a huge bag and buy the things needed in prison. Everything will be ready when they come to arrest me next time. Furthermore, I know what they want from me.

There are two people who have been writing to me since 2006 – Volha Filonava from Baranavichy and Nasta Kuharenka from Hrodna. I asked her not to bring flowers to prison and she made a small doll for me. I have been given back a very important thing today – my ring. I hadn’t seen it since the detention. It is cheap and there are no diamonds in it. But is it very impora6tnt. I won’t tell you why.

Will I lead a calm life now? I do not think that it may be possible with my temper.  I will try to do it for some time. I will not provoke them – I need to improve my health.  I have been beaten since 2003. It is 11 years of my and my family’s life. This is the governmental system. They beat those who report them. And I was made to report them. I had to dig some dirt up because they wanted to make me pay for nothing.

I will keep creating an organization for warfare veterans.  I need to listen to people and to talk to them. But I will keep doing it.

What to do to remain a human in prison? You should not do anything that will make you feel embarrassed. Make you deeds visible to everyone. Think what people will say about your actions. Then it will be easier. There are a lot of people who can keep their word.