Belarus Releases Six Political Prisoners
After the release of six political prisoners in Belarus, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"We are immensely relieved that Mikalai Statkevich, Ihar Alinevich, Yuri Rubtsou, Mikalai Dziadok, Artsiom Prakapenka, and Yauhen Vaskovich are finally free," said Mark P. Lagon, president of Freedom House. "While celebrating their release, we remain convinced they should have never been imprisoned. We continue to follow closely the plight of Maksim Perkarski, Vadzim Zhiromski, and Viachaslau Kasinerau, who were subjected to warrantless searches and beatings before their arrest, the classic signs of political persecution."
Photo: Mikalai Dziadok. Мікалай Дзядок (у цэнтры), пасьля вызваленьня, Photo courtesy of RFERL.
The six Belarusian political prisoners were released on August 22 on a presidential pardon. Pekarski, Zhiromski, and Kasinerau – who remain in custody -- were detained August 11 for allegedly painting a slogan “Belarus should be Belarusian” and crossed-over Soviet national emblem and swastika on a billboard. They face up to six years in prison if found guilty of all charges.
Aliaksandr Lukashenka has started his campaign for the fifth consecutive presidential term, in presidential elections slated for October 11, 2015.
Belarus is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.71 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.