Kozulin set to reject pardon

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The daughters of Belarusian dissident Alexander Kozulin hope their father has left the prison for good. But the politician says he will not accept the pardon.

Alexander Kozulin today arrived from a colony in the northern Belarus to Dzyarzhynsk to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. While relatives were waiting for Kozulin, his daughter Volha told the European Radio for Belarus that they did not expect anything unusual on this day.

“We woke up, knowing that it was just another ordinary day. First, we were told that our granddad had died. Then, we ringed the chief of the colony and asked him to inform dad about it. Some time later, dad called himself and said he was free and on his way to attend the funeral”, Volha Kazulina said.

Kozulin’s daughters did not expect their father to be freed so quickly. They thought it would happen ahead of the parliamentary elections or right after.

“Of course, we have waited for this to happen for a long time. I expected him to be freed. But I though it would happen one or two days before the elections or right afterwards”, says Volha.

The news broke unexpected even for Alexander Kozulin himself. According to Volha Kozulina, the prospects of the release were not discussed at a meeting with the head of the OSCE Office in Minsk Hans Smidt on August 12.

“Mr Smidt visited my dad. He said that he did not talk with Mr Smidt about the prospects of his release. In other words, nothing promised that he would be freed today. I hope that he has been freed for a long time, for ever”, Volha said.

In the backyard of a house in Dzyarzhynsk where relatives had gathered to pay tributes to late Ivan Sabaleuski, Kozulin’s daughters kept saying: “We hope he has been freed for ever”. However, when the politician appeared and when I told him: “Congratulations! You are free”, he answered: “Just for now”.

It is still unclear for how long Kozulin has been released. However, he has firmly said that he is not going to accept the pardon. He promised to reveal more details at a news conference on Monday.