Maryna Adamovich, wife of political prisoner Mikola Statkevich: The entire prison roared and cried out “Zyvie Bielarus!”

Mikola Statkevich, the former Belarusian presidential candidate sentenced for allegedly organizing mass riots after  the elections in December 2010 is still in prison. Maryna Adamovich, wife of political prisoner, Mikola Statkevich gave an interview to RFI.

In the evening, on the birthday of Mikola Statkevich sky over prison No. 4 in Mohilou, where the former presidential candidate serves his sentence, was lit by fireworks. Volley of fireworks was fired by democratic activists and citizens who thus celebrated 57 birthday of  Mikola Statkevich, reminding him that they do not forget about him. On August 12 politician spent his third birthday in a row behind bars.

After the elections in December 2010 seven of the ten candidates for president were arrested. Mikola Statkevich as the only one remained to this day in jail. He has been repeatedly persuaded to sign a request for pardon, which would assure his release from prison. President Lukashenko spoke completely openly about it. However Mr. Statkevich is not going to ask for pardon. According to his wife, Maryna Adamovich, Mikola said that he would not ask for pardon, even if he was asked to do so by the whole democratic community.

The official wedding of Maryna Adamovich and Mikola Statkevich was held after his arrest and trial. In May 2011, a court in Minsk sentenced Mr. Statkievich to six years in prison for organizing mass riots on election day.

In January 2012, the conditions of incarceration of the politician have been tightened. The decision was made by the prison administration in Shklov, as allegedly Mr. Statkevich showed no sign of rehabilitation, but showed a tendency to continue his criminal activities, and there was no chance for parole.

Mr. Statkevich was a Reserve Lieutenant Colonel, a qualified engineer, with great opportunities for military career but he chose a different path. In what conditions is being held politician?  Have he noticed salvo in his honor on his birthday, fired by the activists? The wife of a political prisoner Mikola Statkevich, Maryna Adamovich agreed to answer the questions asked by RFI.

RFI: Mikola Statkevich is the only former presidential candidate of the election in December 2010, who to this day is in jail. What do you know about the conditions in which he had to serve a sentence?

Maryna Adamovich: Mikola is in Mahilou prison number 4 for a year and seven months. The conditions of his incarceration were tightened, and he was transferred from a penal colony to prison for three years. The first year was spent in a maximum security prison. Since January 2013 he is in different prison, where for one year and seven months he has been kept in isolation ward. His rigour was changed to the so-called ordinary so he obtained “additional” half an hour to walk during the day and the right to one pack per year. Sharpened rigour forbade him even that.

The rigour was sharpened on December 27, 2012, but on July 25 this year, the status of “prisoner deliberately breaking rules” was lifted from Mikola. The joy was short-lived, since on August 5, Mikola was presented with new accusations. The reason for this was the alleged breach of the prison terms. Mikola felt bad and allegedly laid across the bed during the day. Anyone who knows what a prison bunk is knows that one cannot lay across it.

RFI: How ended the episode in the hospital, which you described on your Facebook page? What happened there? How did you obtain such information?

Maryna Adamovich: I cannot reveal my source. As far as I know, on August 3 on Saturday afternoon Mikola was in his cell, sitting and leaning against the wall because of the pain in the neck. Through the peephole in the door they asked him if he got sick, to which he replied that he did not. After half an hour, however, he was transferred to the medical unit andhis blood pressure was measured, and it turned out to be high. He was granted a medical help. What kind of assistance that was, I do not know. The next day after the incident, his condition further deteriorated, Mikola lost consciousness, possibly as a result of the aid granted him a day before. A neighbor from the other cell pounded on the door, trying to summon the guard, or a doctor, but there was no response for about 20 minutes.

RFI: Do you know in what state is today Mikola?

Maryna Adamovich: I hope that in good. The letter sent by him on August 8 leads me to believe that he’s all right. On August 5 he was summoned and charged for lying across the bed during the day.

RFI: Jak często ma Pani możliwość otrzymywania listów od Mykoły i czy wszystkie Pani listy są doręczane?

RFI: How often are you able to receive letters from Mikola and are all of your letters delivered?

Maryna Adamovich: Not all. Today’s situation is not worse than the previous one. The worst was when Mikola was in Shklov. I recently did a review of our correspondence. From Shklov I did not receive letters from him for up to four months. This was when the intensified pressure on political prisoners started, when other prisoners were released, and he remained behind bars as the only one. From August to December I had any letters from him. Today they confiscate some of the letters. Sometimes two, sometimes one a month. Sometimes I get them all. For me it is a kind of indicator of the level of pressure exerted by the administration of the prison.

RFI: August 12, his 57-my birthday, Mikola Statkevich spent in prison. We already know that the sky over prison for a short moment was lit up by fireworks. Did Mikola notice it and how he spent his birthday?

Maryna Adamowicz: As far as I know, even in the darkest days in the KGB, according to the recollections of those who have left, especially Ihar Alinievich, who managed to pass a handful of his bitter but reliable memories; even under these conditions, people were able to celebrate their little festivities with a piece of halva, or with a cream to coffee, if we talk about the material part.

As for the emotional state, when on the first birthday of Mikola in prison, fireworks were fired near the prison I was very moved. And I think, that Mikola was moved as well. I was told that the entire prison roared and cried out “Zyvie Bielarus!”. So they knew who then celebrated and in honor of whom was a salvo. It’s very valuable. For me it was a harrowing experience. I think in this way, people tried to express their support, at least screaming.

I do not know the exact details. However, from a purely emotional point of view, one sees that many people are indifferent to his fate … and Mikola knows that. Regardless of all the awkward attempts to isolate him, which are undertaken without interruption. I very much hope that one word about this villainy that takes place, provided in time, will cause more reaction.

RFI: What else do you know about the current conditions in which Mikola Statkevich is held?

Maryna Adamovich: In recent years we have learnt a little more about the conditions in our prison system (largely thanks to the organization “Innovation Platform”). There are also reports of former political prisoners. As for the conditions in the prison, I was absolutely shocked when I realized that Mikola for nearly two years has not seen  trees, grass or sun without bars.

The prisoner has the view on prison walls all the time. Bars on the windows and special metal window sills, or plaques covering the further view from the window. Eyes can see through it just a little piece of sky. The walks are on the square on the roof of the prison, where everything around looks like a cell, only instead of the ceiling there is a grid.

In addition, for 8 months Mikola was in a transitional cell, which resembles a concrete bunker with no wooden floor, which is indeed required by the rules of the prison. To another cell, with wooden floors he was transferred due to dampness that caused plaster to fall off the wall.

As for nutrition, they were able to see something like vegetables only after eight months after the arrest. These vegetables were called by Mikola “former cabbage”, it was cooked sauerkraut. Prisoners call it bigos. Before that vegetables were replaced by dried potatoes.

RFI: We wish you a lot of peace and courage.

Maryna Adamovich: Thank you, but when I hear such wishes, I always answer: do not wish me courage, but that I would never have to need it, and that all this came to an end as soon as possible and all political prisoners were released.

Other political prisoners