Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections

Праваабарончы цэнтр «Вясна» беларускі хельсінкскі камітэт


Former political prisoner Statkevich still eager to hold his electoral picket and treats police intimidation with irony

Mikalai Statkevich
Mikalai Statkevich

The former political prisoner told “Nasha Niva” that on September 8 he was summonsed for a “talk” to the Main Police Department of the Minsk City Executive Committee. The reason was that he intended to hold a picket in the center of Minsk (near HUM department store) on September 10 do demand free elections.

“I am on the prophylactic register and am obliged to come to the police. Today I was invited to the Main Police Department of the Minsk CEC for 2.50 p.m. I was taken to some hall with many video cameras. There they gathered a real presidium, headed by some Major-General with a crew cut.

The general immediately started his speech, that I was breaking the law by holding an unauthorized picket. I told him: “You are speaking with such inspiration, and I don't even know you, introduce yourself, please”. As it turned out, it was the head of Minsk police, Aliaksandr Barsukou.

I explained that I had constitutional rights and there was an electoral campaign, during which people have the right to discussion. We kept interrupting each other for about 15 minutes. Barsukou wanted to speak something ardent to the camera, while I didn't let him do it.

It turned out that Barsukou is a very emotional person. He got that excited, that completely forgot all foreign languages and started speaking Belarusian. And spoke quite well!

They offered me to sign some written warning, but I refused.

I told them that the police had turned people into an frightened herd, and I personally will never be one of the kind. Barsukou, in his turn, started saying: “We have treated you humanly, released you from prison. But you want to be imprisoned again.” Well, well, well, of course they haven't treated even murderers in such a way.

The authorities want to be legitimized in any way possible, but don't even give the people any opportunity to gather. I answered that they shouldn't worry, as I didn't appoint a ruble devaluation after all.

They told me that I was to have appealed for a permission in 15-days' advance. I answered that they would hardly give a permission anyway, as they only permitted to hold rallies in Banhalor Square twice a year.

I left the police department in a good mood. I treat it all with irony."