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Image: Belarusian HR defender gets two years for Internet publications

Belarusian HR defender gets two years for Internet publications

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Belarusian human right defenders express deep concern about the destiny of the political prisoner Andrey Klimau. They appeal to everyone to support Mr. Klimau, who is being kept imprisoned in very bad conditions. On August 1, he was convicted to two years´ imprisonment for his publications on the Internet.

Based on information www.spring96.org

Andrei Klimau was born on 17 September 1965 in Minsk. In the middle of the 1990-ies Andrei Klimau owned a building firm ‘Andrei Klimau & Co’ which implemented large state orders, a bank and a newspaper. In December 1995 he was elected a deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the 13th Convocation and was a member of the Commission on reforms and economical policy. In his speeches he sharply criticized the policy of the president Aliaksandr Lukashenka. The criminal persecution of the businessman and deputy Klimau started after the referendum of 1996 where he was accused for being an initiator of the impeachment to the president.

First arrest
Andrei Klimau was arrested on 11 February 1998 for the first time without the prosecutor’s sanction and agreement of the Supreme Soviet. While in detention, Klimau declared a dry hunger-strike to protest against violations of the Constitution’1994, which guaranteed his immunity as a deputy. Eight months later, on 17 March 2000, the court sentenced Klimau to six years of jail with property confiscation for ‘financial abuses’ during the construction of an elite house for foreign diplomats and high-rank officials in Minsk. Andrei Klimau pleaded innocent. He spent more than four years in jail. The opposition and the international human rights community demanded his release. On 25 March 2002 Klimau was released on parole.

Second Arrest
In December 2004 a criminal case under the article of the Criminal Code, ‘defamation of the President of the Republic of Belarus accompanied with an especially hard felony’, was brought against Andrei Klimau. Formally, the case referred to Klimau´s books ‘Evident Truths’ and ‘I Have Made My Choice’ . According to several literary expert examinations, in these books A.Lukashenka was accused of involvement in the kidnappings of well-known oppositional activists. This case was handled in a closed trial. Andrei Klimau was not sentenced, because his activity ‘ceased to be socially dangerous’.

Third Arrest
After the victory of the Orange revolution in the Ukraine, on 25 March 2005, Andrei Klimau organized a mass peaceful demonstration under the title ‘Revolution’ to protest against Lukashenka’s intention to run for the presidential position for the third time. The special police forces violently dispersed the action and arrested the initiator. On 10 June 2005 Andrei Klimau was sentenced to 18 months of jail for ‘the organization and preparation of the activities which rudely violate the public order, or participation in such activities’. This time Klimau was refused early release and was discharged only on 22 December 2006.

Fourth arrest
On 3 April 2007 Andrei Klimau was charged under the of article of the Criminal Code, ‘Public calls to seizure of the state power or forced change of the state system in the Republic of Belarus, distributed with the support of mass media’, for his web-article ‘Revolution Forever or How to Fly Gypsy Hog in Year of the Pig’ that had been published on the web site of the United Civil Party (which Klimau is a member of) on 25 January 2007. It was the first time when this article (361) was used.

Detoriation of health condition
During the investigation the political prisoner was kept in the investigative isolator. There he suffered a heart attack. According to Klimau, his health deteriorated considerably after the years he spent in jail. Once again, the trial was closed. Only in September 2007, it became known that the sentence was pronounced on 1 August 2007. The judge, Alena Illina, found Klimau guilty under two articles of the Criminal Code – Article 361, and Article 368, ‘defamation of the President of the Republic of Belarus accompanied with accusations in a felony’. For this, the activist was sentenced to 2 years in a high-security prison. According to the forensic linguistic expertise, the evidence of defamation of the president is that in his book Mr. Klimau wrote about the Belarusian authorities´ reluctance to investigate the kidnappings of the oppositional politicians and concealment of the high-rank officials, who are related to them. On 2 October, Minsk city court overturned a complaint, leaving the verdict in force.

Amnesty International has adopted Klimau as a prisoner of conscience.

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