MIL OSI – Source: Viasna Belarus Human Rights Center in English – Press Release/Statement
Headline: Political prisoner Zhamchuzhny reports harassment in prison
Mikhail Zhamchuzhny. Photo by svaboda.org.
Political prisoner Mikhail Zhamchuzhny is facing severe harassment ‘on all fronts’ in penal colony No. 14 in near Barysaŭ, according to his recent letters.
Earlier, Zhamchuzhny was penalized for showing traits of ‘extremism’, after he gave Svetlana Alexievich’s books to other prisoners.
The prisoner says that he has been repeatedly invited for conversations by various prison employees. One of them said that the extremism allegations stemmed from Zhamchuzhny’s letters, where he ‘criticized the prison authorities in a destructive manner’.
As a result, the political prisoner will now have to wear a red tag as ‘a person prone to extremism’. Zhamchuzhny will also have two additional checks a day.
The prisoner says that he is about to receive the first penalty in eight months for taking bread out of the canteen.
“80% of prisoners cook their meals themselves, because the food in the canteen is inedible: they give us beet soup five days a week, but you’ll never find any beetroots even at the bottom of the pot. Pasta is overcooked, so it’s actually a mass. Fish is served together with heads, gills and intestines, thoroughly mixed, and of some industrial types. So I, like most of the convicts, cook my food myself from the stuffs that I buy at the prison shop. But they never sell bread there, so we always take it from the canteen. As a result, I will soon receive my first penalty during the 8 months I’ve spent in the colony,” says he.
Mikhail Zhamchuzhny also notes that the prison staff prevent him from receiving medical care.
“I saw the doctor on June 27. The doctor examined me, made a diagnosis and prescribe treatment with medications. The therapist told me I should receive a permit to wear soft shoes and sleep on the lower berths. However, the head of unit No. 18 refused to sign the statement and returned it to me without consideration,” writes the prisoner.
On July 10, the Viciebsk Regional Court sentenced Mikhail Zhamchuzhny to 6 years in a penal colony. He was charged under several articles of the Criminal Code: Art. 376 (Part 1, 2), Art. 375 (Part 1), Art. 431 (Part 1, 2). This includes intentional disclosure of information constituting an official secret, illegal acquisition (production) of means for secretly obtaining information constituting an official secret, as well as bribery.
Following the verdict, Belarusian human rights activists recognized Mikhail Zhamchuzhny a political prisoner.