Mikalai Statkevich marks his 58th birthday.
The politician and candidate in the 2010 presidential election has been behind bars for the last 3.5 years. Mikalai Statkevich hasn't losen his optimism and closely watches events in Belarus and the neighbouring countries despite strict confinement conditions and provocations from the authorities of the Mahilou prison.
The political prisoner's wife, Maryna Adamovich, spoke with charter97.org about her husband's life in prison.
– Unfortunately, I don't have much news. They often confiscate his letters. A lawyer has visited Mikalai Statkevich lately, so we have some information. He does not complain about health or other things except for confiscation of letters. He continues doing sports. He watched the events in Ukraine and writes a lot about the things relating to the crashing world security system. He has a clear vision of the events in the neighbouring counties despite his isolation.
As for letters, I receive only 50 per cent of them. We also have good news: they began to eat something like vegetables in summer. Inmates receive bigos. He even said about pickled cucumbers. I thought it was just one time, but it became known later that it became a tradition. Former inmates know how important it is. These years were not spent in vain. We have made small steps to improve the situation of prisoners.
– It has been hot in Belarus for the last two weeks. How do they live in prison in such weather?
– I asked him about it, because I worried about it. The windows of his cell look to the yard in the north, but the cell is on the upper floor. The building apparently does not have the attick, so the cell gets hot easily. Mikalai writes he doesn't suffer from heat and showers with cold water more often.
– Is Mikalai Statkevich still held in solitary confinement?
– Yes, he has been in solitary confinement since the end of January. He will remain they until his release. Under prison rules, he cannot be transferred to a general unit without his consent. The term of 3 years in prison expires on January 12. If nothing changes, he is then expected to be moved to a softer correctional facility to serve the remaining two years.
– You say Mikalai Statkevich knows what is happening in the world and in Ukraine. Does he have any information about events in Belarus?
– Of course he has. He reacts quickly and emotionally, but, as you understand, I receive information from prison with a delay. Mikalai Statkevich knows about the release of Ales Bialiatski. He asked to send him his words of support. He was happy to hear about his release. As for the situation in the country, Mikalai worries that Putin may use 2015 to implement his revanchist plans on Belarus.
– What would you wish him on his birthday?
– I wish him freedom. I should admit that there's no freer person than Mikalai in prison. But I also wish he were free physically.
Charter97.org joins the congratulations and wishes Mikalai Statkevich the soonest release.
Mikalai Statkevich was born on in the village of Liadno (the Slutsk district, the Minsk region) on August 12, 1956. He graduated from Minsk Higher Engineering School of Anti-Aircraft Missile Defence. He defended a PhD thesis and worked for the higher school. He is a retired colonel-lieutenant. He spoke against the coup in Moscow on August 20, 1991. He announced the formation of the Belarusian Association of Military Officers.
Mikalai Statkevich was a candidate in the 2010 presidential election. He was arrested after a protest rally against the rigged results of the election on December 19, 2010. More than 700 people, including presidential candidates Andrei Sannikov, Uladizmir Niakliaeu, Ales Mikhalevich and members of their teams, were arrested.
On May 26, 2011, Minsk's Pershamaiski district court sentenced the politician to 6 years in a medium security correctional facility. In 2012, confinement conditions for him were strengthened. He was transferred from correctional facility No. 17 in Shklou to prison No. 4 in Mahilou.