Friday, October 26, 2007

Political Prisoners? No; Not Here in Belarus.

A few days ago the Belarus Chamber of Representatives passed a "reform" bill which will pardon several categories of convicts whose crimes were punishable by no more than six years in prison. However, even those who were convicted of severe economic crimes, such as larceny and fraud, may also have up to 2/3 of their sentence eliminated. According to Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau, this amnesty will extend to some 2,500 convicts.

But some things remain the same in Alexander Lukashenka's dictatorial rule over Belarus for the word is that this new found liberalism towards criminals will not extend to political prisoners. Indeed, Navumau explained at the news conference that the country doesn't even have political prisoners!

"There are no political prisoners or politically motivated articles in Belarus. Many people whom the opposition is talking about [i.e. opposition politicians Alyaksandr Kazulin and Andrey Klimau] were convicted on criminal charges."