"The issue of my release is being solved, but the negative reaction and the publication of Lukashenka's interview in media of Great Britain can only worsen my situation," Irina Khalip, own correspondent of Russia's Novaya Gazeta in Belarus, explains the alleged disappearance of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's interview from the pages of Evening Standard and the apologies of Dmitri Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta.
October 17, Evening Standard newspaper published an article called Europe's last dictator agreed to release the journalist after the request of Standard. The article cited Mr. Lukashenka's directions to release Ms. Khalip, the wife of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw.
According to Novaya Gazeta with a reference to Evening Standard, Mr. Lukashenka told Oliver Poole, a journalist of the newspaper, that he was ready to release Ms. Khalip. "Why, is she here? I though she was in Moscow. Send Khalip there tonight with the evening horse," Mr. Lukashenka said. "Take her and never bring her here again. I can't talk about this person at all. Never use this word in vain. You want to take her to Moscow? Take her there."
Later, the article disappeared from Evening Standard website and Mr. Muratov apologized to Mr. Lukashenko for "rush conclusions" and suggested to publish an interview in Novaya Gazeta that Mr. Lukashenka gave to Yevgeny Lebedev, journalist of The Independent.
Press Office of Mr. Lukashenka said that he had not given the interview to Evening Standard.
"Both, the chief editor of Novaya Gazeta, and the owners of Independent and Evening Standard received clear signals from the highest echelons of power [the Belarusian authorities] that they worsen my situation by themselves. They were given a notice in order to understand that if they stop abrupt motions, my situation may improve. The steps taken were taken with a hope to improve my situation", Ms. Khalip told UDF.BY.
Ms. Khalip was given a two-year suspended prison sentence over the December 19, 2010 post-election street protest. She was ordered to report to probation officers once a week and come home no later than 10 p.m., and prohibited from leaving Minsk without police permission. The suspension of her sentence expires on July 20, and a new court hearing will be held to decide whether to send her to prison, lift restrictions on her freedom or leave them in place.