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MINSK, April 21 (Itar-Tass) —— Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko will free opposition politicians remaining in jail if they ask for pardon.
“Those who remain in jail and have not written this appeal to the president will serve their terms,” Lukashenko said on Saturday, April 21.
Asked about the recent release of two opposition politicians – Andrei Sannikov and Dmitry Bondarenko – which many politicians say became possible due to the European Union’s pressure, Lukashenko said he would tolerate no pressure.
“One more attempt to exert pressure and the babblers who were let go and should say ‘thank you’ for that can get back to the colony again,” he said.
Sannikov was arrested on December 19, 2010 and sentenced to five years in prison for participation in mass riots in Minsk.
Sannikov, 57, was found guilty of organising mass riots in Minsk on December 19, 2010 after presidential elections.
During court hearings, Sannikov said the trial was “conspicuously politically motivated” and refused to plead guilty.
Having noted that the court failed to uphold some of the defence's pleas, his lawyer said this testified to “the one-sidedness of the trial”.
Belarusian opposition member, European Belarus Coordinator Dmitry Bondarenko was Sannikov’s campaign representative in 2010.
Bondarenko was arrested on December 20, 2012, as an organiser of the thousands-strong post-election protests in Minsk that developed into riots. The court found him guilty of organising group actions, which fragrantly breached public order, and sentenced him to two years in a regular penitentiary.
The president recalled that he had already announced the conditions for releasing opposition politicians. “Western pressure has nothing to do with their release. Had they not written appeals for pardon, they would still be in jail,” he explained.
Lukashenko stressed that he had pardoned them being guided by purely humane considerations, but if they “rattle their tongues again, they will go back”.
He noted that while two opposition politicians were released, 20,000-30,000 other prisoners were not given such treatment, which is unfair.
“This is why I may make the decision to release 2,000-3,000 prisoners by Independence Day, those who behave well and have embarked on the path of self-correction,” he said, adding, “The bandits have been let go, but normal people are still languishing in prison.”
Lukashenko warned against listening to those who talk about pressuring him. “They say that the ambassadors were let back in because of the pressure. On the contrary, we told the ambassadors: you have left, stay there. It’s the ambassadors who wished to come back,” he said.