Updated at 18:18,16-07-2018

Awtukhovich Goes on Hunger Strike


Convicted businessman Mikalay Awtukhovich went on a hunger strike on June 16 to protest the refusal by the administration of Minsk's Pretrial Detention Center No. 1 to allow him to receive dental treatment.

As the man's lawyer, Pavel Sapelka, told BelaPAN, Mr. Awtukhovich urgently needs replacement teeth and demands a meeting with the deputy chief of the interior ministry's Corrections Department in charge of the medical service.

The jail administration has removed all food storage items from Mr. Awtukhovich since he began the protest, according to the lawyer.

According to human rights defender Aleh Volchak, the 47-year-old Awtukhovich has "serious problems with his teeth and urgently needs replacement teeth." "We are ready to find a denture dentist, bring him to the detention center and pay all the costs, but we are still refused," Mr. Volchak said.

Mr. Sapelka said that he was preparing an appeal against Mr. Awtukhovich's prison sentence and a request for instituting criminal proceedings over "falsified" evidence used in the man's trial.

Mr. Awtukhovich received his prison sentence on May 6. A panel of the Supreme Court of Belarus found Mr. Awtukhovich guilty of illegal possession of arms, ammunition or explosives.

During the trial, Mr. Awtukhovich, who had already spent more than a year in jail, was cleared of charges of "preparations for an act of terrorism" against Uladzimir Sawchanka, head of the Hrodna Regional Executive Committee, and Deputy Tax Minister Vasil Kamyanko, and of involvement in an arson attack on the house of Syarhey Katsuba, a former chief of the Vawkavysk district police department.

Opposition activists and human rights defenders believe that the charges against Mr. Awtukhovich were trumped up in revenge for their criticism and corruption accusations.

Mr. Awtukhovich lost 35 kilograms as a result of a three-month hunger strike held last year to protest his detention and prosecution.