20 January 2018, Saturday, 12:22

Syarhei Kavalenka freed


A political prisoner was made to apply for a pardon after blackmailing, pressure and threats.

Political prisoner Syarhei Kavalenka was released from a penal colony in Mahilou on the evening of September 26. Information about his release appeared this morning. Kavalenka was freed on the ground of an application for a presidential pardon.

Syarhei Kavalenka was talking to his family all night long. He is sleeping now. His wife Alena Kavalenka said in an interview with charter97.org her husband called her in the evening from the central railway station in Mahilou. Prison staff saw him off at the train station and Kavalenka got on the train to Vitebsk.

His wife, son, relatives and plainclothes policemen and secret services agents met him at the train station in Vitebsk.

“There were lots of them. They were watching us,” Alena Kavalenka said.

According to the woman, Syarhei Kavalenka says anarchists Pavel Syramolatau, who also applied for a pardon, should be released from the Mahilou penal colony. “Pavel and Syarhei were moved to a separate cell just before the release,” Alena Kavalenka says.

Syarhei Kavalenka was forced to sign a pardon application by blackmailing, pressure and threats.

“They demanded him to apply for a pardon and confess. Syarhei said he couldn't betray his principles. They continued to press on him and blackmail with his little son. He was then thrown into a punishment cell with awful conditions. The window there was broken. It was very cold and Syarhei had to do physical exercises to get warm,” the wife of the political prisoner says.

Alena worries about her husband's health. “Syarhei weighted 45 kilograms after a 2-month hunger strike in prison. He recently began to put on weight. He weights twice as much now. It's abnormal. They probably added hormones in his meal and gave compound feed. Inmates of Belarusian prisons  recently said about this practice. He should undergo a medical examination immediately.”

“We are being watched constantly. We don't know on what conditions Syarhei was released,” Alena Kavalenka said.

Syarhei Kavalenka, an activist of the Conservative Christian Party BPF, was sentenced to 13 months in prison for violation of probation. He received a suspended sentence for hanging out a national white-red-white flag on Vitebsk's Christmas Tree. He was on hunger strike since the middle of December to the end of March with a 20-day break. He lost 50 kg. He held another hunger strike from May 8 to May 25.

A possible reason for his release is that the European Union will consider an issue of imposing further sanctions on Lukashenka regime on October 31. The dictator seems to again use political prisoners as bargaining chips releasing them one by one at the right time and refusing to free all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally.