23 January 2021, Saturday, 8:27
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A year since political prisoners Autukhovich and Asipenka thrown into prison

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An action of solidarity with prisoners of conscience is to be held at October square at 6:00 p.m. today.

On February 8, 2009, Mikalai Autukhovich, Yury Lyavonau, and Uladzimir Asipenka were arrested in Vaukavysk. Almaz special group was sent to Vaukavysk from Minsk to arrest the entrepreneurs. The detainees were charged under article 218 of the Criminal Code (intentional damage to or destruction of property of citizens). On June 23, a criminal case under article 359 of the Criminal Code (a terroristic act) in the form of preparation (article 13) was instigated against Autukhovich and “other persons. They are accused of attempt on the life of regional high-ranking officials.

Human rights activists consider them political prisoners, turning attention to the fact that Autukhovich and Lyavonau were convicted before and recognized prisoners of conscience by the international community. In January 2010, the influential Human Rights Watch recognized the Vaukavysk businessmen and arrested participant of the Process of 14 Artsyom Dubski political prisoners.

As Radio Svaboda reminds, human rights activist Aleh Vouchak was the first to inform independent media about the arrests. As Mikalai Autukhovich, he was a member of the organization of Afghan war veterans.

“I have been talking the whole year the criminal case was instigated unlawfully, there were no ground to open it,” Aleh Vouchak comments on the arrest of Vaukavysk entrepreneurs. “Autukhovich and Asipenka are kept in jail unlawfully. We haven’t seen and won’t see real proofs. This is a political process. Some officials may not like this, but we think the investigation doesn’t have anything against these people. The fact is that two high-ranking officials have been fired because of the case. These are former minister if internal affairs Navumau and head of the Hrodna region executive committee Sauchanka. So, Autukhovich, who has been saying for the last 7–8 years the high officials in the Hrodna region are corrupted, was true.”

In august 2009, businessman Yury Lyavonau was released. All accusations against him were removed a month later. At large, Lyavonau said innocence of his colleague Autukhovich would be evident if the trial was open.

According to the Supreme Court of Belarus, the date of the trial over Autukhovich and Asipenka has not been appointed yet; it remains unsolved whether the trial will be open. Human rights activists do not exclude it may take a month to make a decision.

Lawyers of Mikalai Autukhovich and Uladzimir Asipenka say their clients are preparing for the trial. According to lawyer Tamara Sidarenka, her client Uladzimir Asipenka feels normal, but Mikalai Autukhovich suffers from dental disease. He cannot receive dental service in prison, lawyer Pavel Sapelka said. According to latest information of the lawyer, the term of detention for Autukhovich and Asipenka was expended until February 28.

Youth organizations called on the Belarusians to mark the year of arrest of the Vaukavysk businessmen by coming to October square at 6 p.m. February 8 and demanding their release.