Mikalay Autukhovich

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Mikalay Autukhovich
Nationality Belarusian
Occupation taxi company owner
Known for political activism, 2006 imprisonment

Mikalay Autukhovich is a Belarusian businessman and political dissident who has twice been imprisoned by the government of Belarus. Belarusian courts have found him guilty of tax evasion and terrorism, but international human rights organization Amnesty International has stated that he is a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for peaceful protest.

Prior to his arrest, Autukhovich worked at the Vaukavysk-based taxi company Nika-taxi 22222.[1] He also ran as an opposition candidate in the 2004 Belarusian parliamentary elections.[2]

On 7 July 2006, he was arrested and charged with "large scale tax evasion and running business without a registration and a license". He was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to three-and-a-half years' home arrest.[3] He was released in early 2009 following "pressure from the European Union and the United States".[4]

Shortly after his release, he was charged with involvement in a 2005 arson case, along with two other activists. Authorities later added additional charges of illegal weapons possession and "preparing a terrorist act".[4] Autukhovich responded to the charges with a three-month hunger strike that lasted from February to April of that year, demanding that he be allowed to face to trial.[2] In May, Autukhovich was tried, and while the terrorism charge against him was dropped, he was convicted of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition and given a five-year, two-month prison sentence.[5]

Autukhovich is currently serving his sentence in a labor camp in Ivatsevichy. He reportedly lacks legal representation after his lawyer, Paval Sapelka, was disbarred for representing opposition presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov in court.[5] In December 2011, prison officials reported that Autukhovich had attempted suicide by slashing his wrists, but had survived and was in stable condition.[6] According to the Viasna Human Rights Centre, following the incident, he was moved into a "closed regime", largely isolating him from contact with other prisoners.[5]

Radio Free Europe has described Autukhovich as being regarded as a political prisoner by "activists at home and abroad".[4] Amnesty International has named him a prisoner of conscience and called for his immediate release.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Police Commandos Detain Nika Taxi 22222 Director". Charter97. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b "Lidziya Autukhovich: "Help to save my son!"". Charter97. 21 July 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Mikalay Autukhovich: "As before, measure of restraint hasn’t been changed for me"". Charter97. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Belarus Terrorism Charge Targets Hunger Striker". Radio Free Europe. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c "Jailed Belarusian Activist Put In 'Closed Regime'". Radio Free Europe. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Imprisoned Belarus Activist Attempts Suicide". Journal of Turkish Weekly. 23 December 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2012.