The eminent Belarusian academic, Professor Yury Bandazhevsky, was conditionally released from prison on 5 August, after serving four years of an eight year sentence. Speaking to Amnesty International, Yury Bandazhevsky said that he is now spending his time getting used to his freedom and looking into work possibilities. He was released suddenly under a recent amnesty declared by President Lukashenka on 5 May, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
However, Amnesty International is concerned that Yury Bandazhevsky will remain under the authorities’ control for the next five years, subjected to various conditions which include having to report regularly to the police, and being prohibited from assuming any managerial or political functions. Amnesty International will continue to campaign for the conditions to be lifted.
On 18 June 2001, Professor Yury Bandazhevsky was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment after being convicted of taking bribes from students seeking admission to the Gomel Medical Institute, where he was a rector. He has always maintained his innocence. Both domestic and international trial observers believed the trial to be unfair and Amnesty International was concerned that he did not have access to a lawyer during his pre-trial detention. Amnesty International adopted him as a Prisoner of Conscience, believing that he was convicted on trumped up charges because of his open criticism of the authorities’ response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Since 1999, Yury Bandazhevsky’s case has been taken up by numerous national and international human rights organizations as well as by celebrities, including the popular Russian rock band, Leningrad, and the English rock band, The Cure.
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.