Updated at 14:58,21-10-2016

Jailed dissident Awtukhovichs health gets worse

11-05-2009, 16:50

The health of jailed dissident Mikalay Awtukhovich, who has been on a hunger strike since April 16, has considerably deteriorated, lawyer Pavel Sapelka told BelaPAN.

Mr. Awtukhovich is staying at the medical unit of the detention center on Valadarskaha Street in Minsk. "He is very unwell. The results of his tests are very bad. He has developed liver problems", the lawyer said. He noted that his client was still determined to continue the fast "till the end".

Mr. Awtukhovich, Yury Lyavonaw and Uladzimir Asipenka were apprehended in armed raids in their hometown of Vawkavysk, Hrodna region, on the morning of February 8. They are said to be accused of perpetrating a series of arsons and explosions targeting the property of local officials and of illegal possession of explosives and firearms.

Mr. Awtukhovich announced on April 16 that he had gone on an open-ended hunger strike to protest his months-long detention and demand that the case should be either referred to court or all people under investigation in the case should be released on their own recognizance.

Messrs. Awtukhovich and Lyavonaw, former business partners, were sentenced to more than three years in prison in July 2006 for alleged tax evasion and illegal business activities. They were both granted early release in January last year.

Mr. Awtukhovich, who was widely believed to be a prisoner of conscience, insisted that he had been sent to prison because he had protested authorities arbitrary rule.

The man, who is a leader of a nascent association of foreign war veterans, was among the three civil society activists who petitioned the government in January to restore state benefits for the Soviet-Afghan wars veterans.