‘From prison to prison’: Political prisoner Vasil Parfiankou freed

At 6:30 Vasil Parfiankou was convoyed from Horki penal colony to a railway station and made to get on a train to the city of Vorsha. When he was in jail his son was born. Vasil has not seen the baby yet.

On December 5, 2013  judge Leanid Yarmolenkau of Pershamayski District Court in Minsk sentenced Mr Parfiankou to one year in a high-security correctional institution for alleged failing to comply with restrictions imposed on him following his release.  

At about 6:00 his friends came to meet the political prisoner.

“You are not allowed to gather here. And you’d better speak English because I don’t understand your stupid talks [in the Belarusian language – Belsat],” a man without any insignia, allegedly a representative of the prison administration, told Vasil’s friends.

Half an hour later several persons in uniform handed some man in a car and drove away, and Vasil’s friends suggested the prisoners were taking Vasil away. They followed the car and found out that Vasil was made to get on a train to Vorsha. Police prevented journalists from accompanying the political prisoner.

On the train Vasil borrowed a mobile phone and let his friends know he was travelling to Vorsha. Finally, they managed to meet him at a railway station cafe.

“I can’t say I am falling into euphoria due to my release. Perhaps, that is because it is not the first time [I has been out of prison]. Or maybe that is because I see that there is no freedom here, at liberty, that there is the same prison. As far as I know, pressure on activists, on freedom of expression is being stepped up. That’s why I feel I had hardly left one prison when I fell into another,” he said.

His joy was spoilt by this forcible taking to Vorsha, Parfiankou said.

“I told them – why are you taking me somewhere? I am free now. They answered they were carrying out an order. They didn’t even mention who and what they were,” he stressed.

‘We’ll keep on fighting’

Vasil says he was not brought down when being in jail. He is going to keep on fighting for a free and independent Belarus.

“I am a nationalist to the core. I do not want any war here, but if there is such need I will be defending my Motherland. Let’s unite, offer ideas and fight for our freedom!” the activist said.

“I do not want us to have such situation as Ukraine is facing now – war or something else. I would like Belarus to become free in a peaceful way,” Vasil Parfiankou told Belsat.

While Vasil was talking to his friends and journalists at the railway station two plain-clothed men were keeping an eye on the group. They had been following Vasil until he got in the car.

The course of persecution

Vasil Parfiankou, charged with initiating mass social unrest, became the first convicted for participation in the 2010 December post-election peaceful demonstration. On February 17, 2011 Frunzensky Disctict Court found him guilty and sentenced to four years in maximum-security penal colony.

On August 11, 2011 the activist was pardoned by President Lukashenka and released from Vorsha prison. But on April 19, 2012 the investigation Committee informed Parfiankou of opening another criminal case on the basis of his violation of one-year preventive control regime, which had been ordered by court on January 5, 2012.

According to public prosecutor Stsiapurka, Mr Parfiankou was away from home at time arranged without valid excuse. The defendant explained that he was absent just within some minutes doing shopping. ‘In my opinion, they put me under preventive control regime to keep me from taking part in social and political activity. I do not think that having gone shopping I committed a crime,’ Parfiankou declared. He pointed out that he had been put under control after his participation in the protest action.

On August 2012 Mr Parfiankou started serving his term in Baranavichy penal colony; on February 9, 2013 he was freed but put under police surveillance.

On July 12, 2013 Mr Parfiankou was charged with violation of preventive surveillance rules (art. 421 of the Criminal Code). Although the case was submitted to court it was not tried: another method of influence on the activist was thought up. Having served five days of arrest, on September 21, 2013 Vasil Parfiankou was unexpectedly sent to Svetlahorsk activity therapy centre for one-year period.

There are six political prisoners in Belarus

Danuta Barouskaya/MS