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Border Guards Detain Ex-Presidential Candidate on His Return to Belarus

Ales Mikhalevich meets with his wife Milana and his daughter at the train station in Vilnius. 2011 (Photo by Julia Darashkevich)

Belarusian border guards on September 8 detained Ales Mikhalevich, a political refugee and a presidential candidate in the 2010 elections.

Ales Mikhalevich told Radio Liberty on the telephone that he was detained at the Hudahay railway station while travelling from Vilnius to Minsk by train.

«I always kept in mind that sooner or later I would have to go back, and I think that now is the best time to return. I really want to be with my family, I want to be in Belarus, and that’s why I made this decision,» — Mikhalevich said, adding that he is prepared even for a scenario when he will have to go back to jail.

Ales Mikhalevich on his way to Belarus
Ales Mikhalevich on his way to Belarus

Ales Mikhalevich participated in the 2010 presidential elections. During the opposition protest rally in Minsk on December 19, 2010, he was arrested along with others opposition candidates and accused of «organizing mass disorder.»

After his release from jail under a written pledge not to leave the country, Ales Mikhalevich held a press conference at which he confessed that he was released after he had agreed under torture to cooperate with the secret police. A few days later he secretly left Belarus.

Ales Mikhalevich was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. From time to time he met abroad with his family, which remained in Belarus.