Belarusians’ Greatest Fear is Prison 14:03, 24/10/2006
As said by Belarusian human rights watchdogs, 20% of prisoner in prisons of Belarus are former directors of state enterprises or private businesses. A great likelihood to be imprisoned for even a minor offence alarms Belarusians.
As the Russian service of Radio Liberty informs, sociologists of the company of the group “Eurasian monitoring” addressed citizens of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan with the same question. They asked about a thing in life they fear most. As a result the greatest Belarusian fear was found - imprisonment. 23% respondents told about that, while 13% Russians and 7% Kazakh citizens mentioned it. Why Belarusian prisons are so dreadful? Why people of the most “stable” country fear to be imprisoned?
The former political prisoner Valery Levaneuski, who has spent 2 years in prison, is writing a book about Belarusian prisons. “Only by making public violations of the law in Belarusian prisons, their numerous problems could be solved,” the author believes.
“The first thing encountered by any person getting into a remand prison is a dirty overcrowded ward,” Levaneuski writes. “There are less than 1 square metre per person there. There are 3 storeys of beds, but there are not enough of them, and people have to sleep in turns”. “Taking in consideration that a toilet is situated in the same room, and that about 20 prisoners are smoking all the time, no wonder that tuberculosis is the most wide-spread disease in Belarusian prisons,” the leader of the entrepreneurs’’ movement said.
According to reports of human rights activists, out of 42 thousands of Belarusian inmates more than 8,000 have been rather respected people before. They were directors of state-run and private companies. A human rights activist Liudmila Hraznova believes that “the state prosecutes all who strive for economic independence”.
The regime handles its opponents without mittens as well. Thus, recently two oppositionists have announced an indefinite hunger strike in a colony. They are a former candidate for presidency Alyaksandr Kazulin and a former head of a parliamentary group “Respublika” Syarhei Skrabets. Before his arrest A. Kazulin said that the regime had created a system of intimidation with the help of which it is trying to turn its people into an obedient herd.
“Isn’t it anecdotic? A fairy-tale about a wonderful and happy life in our country is hammered in our heads. We are going to bed and waking with those songs. But they are trying to destroy our dignity and turn the nation into an obedient herd”.
“A penal colony in Belarus is an area where laws stop operating,” Valery Levaneuski writes in his future book. “Those who are trying to complain about the conditions of incarceration undergo repression by the administration of the penal facility. Legal assistance to prisoners is absolutely non-existent”.
A defender of a tent camp on October square in Minsk in March this year, Krystsina Shatsikava, addressed via mass media embassies of foreign countries which citizens are staying in Belarusian prisons. Just in one prison, in the remand prison in Vitsebsk where Krystsina was kept for participation in an unauthorized protest, citizens of Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Russia, Moldova, Armenia, India, Syria and Ukraine were waiting for deportation. “People waiting for deportation live in inhuman conditions and are staying there for many years,” Shatsikava said. In a number of cases nobody is aware of people’s existence.