Political prisoners at large: first photos

Alyaksandr Lukashenka released six political prisoners on August 22 – Mikalai Statkevich, Ihar Alinevich, Mikalai Dzyadok, Yauhen Vaskovich, Artsyom Prakapenka and Yury Rubtsou.

All of them were released quickly and did not expect it. They were home late in the evening.

Mikalai Statkevich arrived at Minsk Ushodny Bus Terminal.  Over a hundred people including many journalists came to meet him. He had been released all of a sudden, he said. They just told him to gather his belongings. Statkevich did everything thinking that he was about to be transferred again. However, when they told him to sign his account, he understood that he was about to be released. Then they showed him the release order. If he had known about it, he would have left some of his things in prison, Mikalai said.

He did not plead pardon.

Ihar Alinevich’s relatives did not manage to meet him at the railway station in Minsk. It was not clear where he was at first. Then he came home. The 31-year-old man was imprisoned on charges of throwing Molotov cocktails at the Russian Embassy in 2011. He was imprisoned for 8 years.

"They told me that policemen wanted to see me. I had been waiting for a transfer to the punishment cell and then to prison. They did not answer my questions. Nobody knew where I was going to be transferred. They could send me to a punishment cell or to another labour camp for my article about prisons. I had not known what was going on until they showed me the release order at the last moment,” Alinevich told Euroradio.

He did not plead pardon.

Mikalai Dzyadok also got to know about the release at the last moment. They led him to the gate and handed over all of his belongings to him. He is 26. Mikalai was detained together with Alinevich on suspicion of the attack on the Russian Embassy. However, he was accused of participation in an unauthorized action near the Belarusian General Staff almost three weeks later. Dzydok was accused of hooliganism and imprisoned for 4.5 years.

He did not plead pardon.

Yauhen Vaskovich, 25, was imprisoned for seven years for throwing a Molotov cocktail at Babruisk KGB in 2011. He was serving his sentence in Mahilyou. His mother, friends and civil activists met him at Babruisk railway station.

Yury Rubtsou did not manage to meet his relatives at Homel railway station either. He phoned his son from home on the evening of August 22. The civil activist from Homel was sentenced to 1.5 years of penal labour on charges of contempt of court in the autumn of 2014. The man was detained after Chernobyl Way. Rubtsou was wearing a T-shirt with the inscription Lukashenka , Leave! He was brought to court from Akrestina prison without any shirt two days later.

Artsyom Prakapenka, 25, was one of the prisoners involved in the so-called ‘anarchists’ case’. He was met at the railway station in Minsk. “Long live, Belarus!” he shouted. Arstyom Prakapenka was imprisoned for 7 years on the same charges as Yauhen Vaskovich. He had been in prison since January 2011.  

The political prisoner pleaded Lukashenka’s pardon in February 2015.  

Photo: Euroradio, Alyaksei Kolchyn, svaboda.org, nn.by and social networks