AutukhovichMark Kirk, U.S. Senator for Illinois, has taken on a prisoner’s godparenthood for Mikolai Autukhovich.

The U.S. Senator said:

“I commend Mikolai Autukhovich in his brave struggle to bring democracy and human rights to Europe’s last dictatorship. His recent hunger strike is a testament to his determination and dedication to his country. I am deeply concerned by recent reports that Mikolai attempted to take his own life as a result of pressure against him. Therefore, I call for the Belarusian authorities to immediately release Mikolai and all democracy and human rights activists detained by the Lukashenka regime.”

The Prisoner’s Godparenthood campaign for political prisoners in Belarus was initiated by the human rights organisation Libereco – Partnership for Human Rights to support the prisoners and their families.

The business man Mikolai Autukhovich was convicted to 5 years of imprisonment by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Belarus on 26th May 2010. He had been in custody since more than 12 months ahead of the trial. The legal proceeding in the case of Autukhovich was accompagnied by serious violations of his procedural rights, and the process is regarded to be politically motivated. On December 15th 2011 Autukhovich tried to commit suicide in a correctional facility. The attempt is most likely connected with the prison administration’s pressure on him.

Belarusian and international human rights organisations regard Mikolai Autukhovich as a prisoner of conscience and are calling for his immediate and unconditional release.