Zmitser Dashkevich leaves prison

Zmitser Dashkevich, chairman of an opposition youth organization called Malady Front (Young Front), was released from a prison in Hrodna at 6:20 a.m. on August 28. The 32-year-old activist, who spent two years and eight months behind bars, was met by a crowd of some 50 people at the prison gate, including his wife Anastasiya and fellow Malady Front members.

Talking to reporters outside the prison, a pale and thin Dashkevich said that he ate his last breakfast in the prison at 5:30 a.m. As he left the facility, prison guards reportedly told him, “If anything happens, there will always be room for you Dashkevich here.”

“First of all, I would like to thank everyone for their support, letters, prayers. This is the most important thing for a person behind bars,” he said. “It’s very important to be aware that there are people outside who support you and continue your cause.”

Mr. Dashkevich announced that he would continue engaging in politics. “I will do what I did,” he said.

“Other inmates always supported me, although in some facilities the administrations attempted to use prisoners for pressure on me. Of course, there is always a prisoner willing to earn release on parole. But in general there was a good attitude, even from some representatives of the prison administration.”

Zmitser Dashkevich was arrested in Minsk on December 18, 2010, on the eve of a scheduled large-scale post-election demonstration, for allegedly beating up two passers-by. Speaking during his trial, Mr. Dashkevich said that the incident was a provocation orchestrated by authorities and accused the two alleged victims of giving false testimony.

On March 24, 2011, he was sentenced to two years in a minimum-security correctional institution on a charge of “especially malicious hooliganism.”

In September 2011, he refused an offer of freedom in exchange for asking Alyaksandr Lukashenka for a presidential pardon.

Mr. Dashkevich was repeatedly placed in disciplinary confinement and transferred to other prisons for allegedly violating prison rules. As a result of two trials, he had his prison term extended to August 28, 2013, and ended up in a cell-type prison in Hrodna. //BelaPAN

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