27 April 2017, Thursday, 4:16

Mikhail Pastukhou: We Are To Promptly Recognize "Patriots' Case" Figurants As Political Prisoners

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MIKHAIL PASTUKHOU

To postpone the recognition means to make against their rights and interests.

Human rights activist and ex-judge of the Constitutional Court of Belarus Mikhail Pastukhou has said this to Charter97.org.

– What assessment would you give to the "patriots' case", is it political?

– We spoke on this matter at the forum Freedom for Political Prisoners of Belarus on April 13. The forum recognized that there is a big political component in this matter, we believe that the case has been falsified. The actions taken by the authorities are illegal and have political nature, therefore there is a full basis for recognizing them as political prisoners.

– Why is it so important to recognize all the figurants of the "patriots’ cause" as political prisoners? Will this step affect the early release?

– I believe that the recognition of persons as political prisoners gives them additional chances that their case will be considered more objectively and they can count on an early release. That is why they must be recognized as political prisoners without delay. This will increase the attention of the international community, Belarusian civil society, they will take pride of place. Therefore, to postpone recognition and wait until the trial is over means to oppose their rights and interests. Also, the trial can be closed, as covert surveillance had taken place and the process could run over time, given that the group of accused is 20 people. Therefore, it is necessary to recognize these persons as political prisoners immediately.

– If this recognition is so important, why such a large organization as Viasna has not done it yet? Can you comment on their position?

– I have already published my opinion on this in the press. I came to the conclusion that Viasna is cautious and takes a longer pause. But I believe that even now, according to the criteria determined by the Council of Europe in relation to political prisoners, we can say that there are sufficient grounds to recognize them as such. There are two main criteria. The first one: an unreasonably strict measure of restraint has been chosen; the second one: unconvincing falsified grounds for bringing charges. In my opinion, all these criteria are available here and one can talk about recognizing them as political prisoners.