Andrei Sannikov told about the recent eighteen months of his life, and the things that matter the most.
The political prisoner and former presidential candidate gave a long interview to the program Central Television on the Russian TV-channel NTV.
Host Vadim Takmenev started the program with opening words:
- This person has never lived in Northern Korea, a country with 200 000 political prisoners and prison terms given for jokes about the chieftain. But apparently in good old Belarus victims of the regime are a reality, too. Former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov has just spent his first week as a free man. Last weekend, on the orthodox Easter, Aliaksandar Lukashenka suddenly granted pardon to the most well-known Belarusian political prisoner. In 2010 Sannikov was Lukashenka’s strongest competition, and right after the election his first term began. A prison term. A year and half, no written correspondence allowed.
- Good evening, Andrei. How are you feeling? You seem to be, how to say, more mature. I can tell.
- Good evening, Vadim. Yes, I’ve grown old, I agree. I feel all right, more or less. I’m alive, that’s what matters.
- What has been your strongest impression from this first week as a free man?
- The strongest impression is exactly what I’ve been longing for, the meeting with my youngest son. I think that our communication is still a bit awkward; he hasn’t seen me for such a long time, and I have some emotional hinders. But the feeling is amazing.
- Of course, only few people have experienced what you’ve been through. Can you tell us about these eighteen months in prison?
- To say it was hard is not enough. The toughest was transfers between different reformatories and problems that followed. I was constantly held under pressure, psychological and even physical. I mean that the confinement conditions were very harsh.
- Do you have an explanation to why you have been released now, so unexpectedly?
- I was waiting for the release since October, every day – even every minute. I believe that first of all, this is a result of the resentment after the unjust verdicts and confinement of the political prisoners in jails and reformatories.
- Andrei, what will you be doing now? Fight for rehabilitation, get back to the politics or take a break?
- I cannot say at the moment. I really do not understand on what cloud I am. The most important now is to get my life back. I knew it would be hard. But when I was released, I saw how difficult it really is. It is crucial that everyone is exonerated. A huge number of people are behind the bars for nothing. And this is what troubles me most.
- Thank you, Andrei.
- Thank you, Vadim. And I’d like to once again thank everyone who supported my family. I have received loads of letters from Russia. And it was great.