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Lukashenko promises political amnesty if presence of political prisoners proven

The Belarusian leader said he had conveyed his position during the October 10 meeting with the opposition
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko  Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
© Nikolai Petrov/BelTA/TASS

MINSK, January 28. /TASS/. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko promised to declare an immediate political amnesty, should at least one political prisoner be found in the republic, BelTA reported Thursday.

"So, today some moan and weep: ooh, amnesty, political amnesty and so on. Tomorrow we will see political amnesty, if anyone points me to a single political clause in our Criminal Code, and demonstrates that [the prisoners] have been convicted, apprehended or arrested over political motives. I will pardon them immediately," Lukashenko said during a meeting on legislation.

He added that he conveyed his position during the October 10 meeting with the opposition in the State Security Committee (KGB) detention facility.

"I told even those, in the detention facility, I told them everything. When they asked the main question ‘When will we be released?’ I told them my vision: return everything you’ve stolen from the people. Then we will talk, and I will try and answer your question of ‘when’. So I wait. I am still waiting… But I am a well-informed man. I know that they have discussed these issues with their relatives. These protesteurs, these masterminds had this option, but they are cheap," he said.

"So, do not indulge in illusions: the political prisoners, the amnesty and so on. If a person does not want to stay in prison for an economic or financial crime - a criminal offence - they give everything they have. <...> If not, then the court will decide. That's all for political amnesty or other amnesty," he added.

On October 10, Lukashenko met with former presidential candidate Viktor Babariko and other opposition figures in the KGB detention facility in Minsk in order to discuss a constitutional reform. After the meeting, restraint measures for several participants in the meeting were changed.

Cases against the opposition

Former Belgazprombank CEO Viktor Babariko was charged with taking a particularly large bribe as part of an organized group, as well as money laundering on a particularly large scale. The six former deputy CEOs were also charged with taking bribes.

In August, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Belarus initiated a criminal case over establishment of the Coordination Council of the opposition. The case involves public calls for forceful seizure of state power or actions aimed against national security, carried out via mass media or the Internet. On December 21, the Prosecutor General’s Office initiated criminal cases against members of the Coordination Council's Presidium over establishment of an extremist group and a conspiracy aimed at seizure of state power. The Coordination Council was initiated by former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who refused to recognize the elections outcome. The opposition stated that the Coordination Council will be tasked with transition of power.