Belarusian opposition politician granted asylum

Czech authorities have reportedly granted asylum to Belarusian politician Ales Mikhalevich, an opposition presidential candidate

A Belarusian demonstrator detained during or following the mass demonstration in Minsk on Dec. 19 greets supporters from a KGB prison

Belarusian opposition politician Ales Mikhalevich has been granted political asylum in the Czech Republic after fleeing Belarus without a passport due to fears of imprisonment and persecution, according to news server

Mikhalevich reportedly fled his homeland over fears for his safety and arrived in the Czech Republic last week. He claimed that the treatment of political prisoners in the Belarusian State Security Agency (KGB) prison where he was held until Jan. 19 amounted to torture.

In a March 17 interview with daily Pravo, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) said the Czech state should grant Mikhalevich asylum because “he shares the same values as us,” adding that he is personally acquainted with the Belarusian politician and admires his courage.

The following day, Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman Vit Kolar confirmed that Mikhalevich had officially applied for political asylum and that he was staying in a refugee center near Brno, South Moravia. Asylum applications are processed by the Ministry of Interior. reported today that the Interior Ministry had confirmed that it had granted Mikhalevich asylum. There was no announcement on the ministry’s website, and Czech Position’s calls to itspress department were not answered.

Mikhalevich was arrested on Dec. 20, 2010, a day after the presidential elections and a mass demonstration in the Belarusian capital Minsk, following the announcement of preliminary results. He was held in custody until Jan. 19 and released on condition that he would collaborate with the KGB. At a Feb. 28 press conference in Minsk, Mikhalevich said that he had agreed to collaborate under considerable pressure and that under normal circumstances he would never have consented to collaboration.


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