Mikalai Autukhovich: four years in jail
Mikalai Autukhovich was thrown into prison on February 8, 2009, for criticising local authorises.
He was charged with alleged "illegal actions in relation to arms, ammunition and explosives".
On May 6, 2010, the Supreme Court of Belarus sentenced Mikalai Autukhovich to 5 years and 2 months in a medium security penal colony under part 3 of article 295 of the Criminal Code, though the case fell apart in court for lack of evidence.
Mikalai is a veteran of the Soviet-Afghan war, a successful businessman and a democratic activist.
He was born in the town of Vaukavysk on January 7, 1963. In 1981 he started his military service as a driver in the strategic missile troops in the Saratov oblast in Russia. He later finished the school of ensigns and volunteered to serve in Afghanistan. He was awarded with the Order of the Red Star and the medals For Courage and For Battle Merit for guarding the bridge near Kandahar and participation in other military operations. In 1991 he left the army with the rank of senior ensign and started a business.
Mikalai Autukhovich was first arrested in October 2005 after he started to struggle for his business (a taxi firm) and hold long hungry strikes. He was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for tax evasion.
He went on hunger strike several times protesting against the unfair prosecution. One of the strikes lasted 70 days. The businessman lost 40 kg and ruined his health.
Mikalai Autukhovich was among six political prisoners released as a result of the US and the EU sanctions.
After the release, Mikalai Autukhovich continued to struggle for businessmen's rights exposing corruption among officials. It was the reason for his second arrest on February 8, 2009.
The businessman is still under pressure.
On January 17, 2012, the court sentenced him to stricter confinement conditions. He was transferred from penal colony No. 5 in Ivatsevichy to prison No. 1 in Hrodna.
Autukhovich didn't admit his guilt at the trial and said the prosecution was caused by his anti-corruption activities. He made a suicide attempt due to pressure and provocations organised by the prison authorities.
You can write a letter to the prisoner on the following address:
Kirau Street, 1, prison No. 1