Updated at 14:58,21-10-2016

Awtukhovich to suspend his hunger strike

16-07-2009, 16:42

Mikalay Awtukhovich, an opponent of the government who has been held in pretrial detention since February, will suspend his lengthy hunger strike on July 16, the defense counsel, Pavel Sapelka, told BelaPAN.

Mr. Awtukhovich has reportedly lost 35 kilograms since he began the strike on April 16, protesting his detention and demanding that the case should be either referred to court or all those under investigation in the case should be released on their own recognizance.

Mr. Sapelka, who visited Mr. Awtukhovich on Wednesday, described his client’s health condition as critical. "Any move is now difficult for him and accompanied by weakness," the lawyer said.

Mr. Sapelka noted that his client had agreed to suspend the strike at his request. "I need Awtukhovich at the trial as a witness, a witness for the defense," he said. "It is time to study the case material and build a defense case, while a hunger-striking Awtukhovich will not be able to do it properly."

During the hunger strike, Mr. Awtukhovich was given glucose infusions. However, experts say that supplementing the body of a hunger-striking person with glucose, such as through intravenous infusion, can be only a temporary measure. After a while, the body anyway starts processing its own amino acids for energy, they say.

Mr. Awtukhovich is grateful to all people who supported him, Mr. Sapelka noted. Mr. Awtukhovich, Yury Lyavonaw and Uladzimir Asipenka were apprehended in armed raids in their hometown of Vawkavysk on the morning of February 8 and brought to a detention center in Minsk. Police said that they were suspected of perpetrating a series of arsons and explosions targeting the property of local officials and of illegal possession of explosives and firearms.

They were formally charged with deliberate destruction of or damage to property caused in a way dangerous to the public or the intentional infliction of large-scale damage on February 18.

In June, Mr. Awtukhovich was declared a suspect in a case against a certain Laryn, who is accused of possession of a grenade launcher and a homemade explosive device.