Experts: End of term is not release

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Easter is over but political prisoners are still in prison. 3 of them will be released soon anyway: Zmitser Dashkevich will be released in August 2013, Alyaksandr Frantskevich – in September, Pavel Sevyarynets – at the end of September or at the beginning of October. Will it release tension between the European Union and the official Minsk?

Expert of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs Arkady Moshes does not exclude the possibility.

Arkady Moshes:The fact that people will be released after their term of imprisonment is over and without acquittal may not change anything especially if a number of people will still be imprisoned.”

Nevertheless, the official Minsk will try to make use of the reduction of the number of political prisoners, political scientist from Vilnius University Vytis Jurkonis thinks.

Vytis Jurkonis: “The authorities will try to make use of it to affect the position of Brussels. But everyone understands that the issue is about releasing and acquitting all political prisoners.”

Nevertheless, Brussles will try to establish cooperation with the official Minsk without “losing its face”, Arkadz Moshas thinks.

Arkady Moshes: “They are still looking for a way to start a dialogue and cooperate without changing the structure of political relations.”

Both Brussels and the official Minsk know how to save their face, Belarusian political scientist Alyaksandr Klaskouski thinks.

Alyaksandr Klaskouski: “They can symbolically release all the three political prisoners a few months before their term of imprisonment is over.”

If political prisoners are released without the authorities’ “help”, the process of establishing relations between Minsk and Brussels will slow down until 2018. Euroradio has calculated that Mikalai Autuhovich will be released in in April 2014 and Edward Lobau – in December 2014. Mikalai Dzyadok will be released in March 2015. Ales Byalyatski will return home in February 2016, Mikalai Statkevich – in December 2016. All the political prisoners will be free in 2018 – Yauhen Vaskovich and Arstyom Prakapenka will be released in January and Ihar Alinevich – in November.  

This year’s last political prisoner will be released before the Eastern Partnership summit in Vilnius in November, but it will not be a reason to invite Lukashenka there. However, the presence of political prisoners in our country will not hinder the removal of Uladzimir Makei from the EU black list, Vytis Jurkonis thinks.  

Vytis Jurkonis: “The issue will be decided in the next few months. He is planning to visit Warsaw – it seems that his name will be removed from the blacklist.”

 MEPs do not know how to make the Belarusian authorities release all the political prisoners but have found a way to improve Belarus’ level of representation during European negotiations, he summed up.