Pr. Yury Bandazhevsky

 * DoB: c. 1957

Profession: Medical Scientist

Date of arrest: July 1999

Sentence: Eight years

Expires: 17 June 2009.

Details of arrest: Arrested in July 1999 and released pending trial which started in December 1999. Imprisoned on conclusion of his trial on 18 June 2001.

Details of trial: Convicted on charges of a) receiving bribes from students at the Gomel Medical Institute and b) falsifying documents in an attempt to escape trial. Bandazhevsky’s defense is a) that he did not receive bribes and that these charges were levied in retaliation for his medical work, highly critical of the government’s handling of the after-effects of the nuclear accident at Chernobyl in 1986, and b) the charges of falsification of travel documents are founded, but that he had done so fearing imprisonment solely for his criticisms. In addition, Amnesty International and other local human rights groups point to a number of breaches of international standards safeguarding fair trial. An appeal against the sentence was turned down by the Supreme Court on 23 November 2001. He was refused conditional release in January 2005.

Professional Background: Bandazhevsky has carried out numerous studies into the effects of radioactive fall-out from the Chernobyl disaster on the local population. These have been widely published. He has been openly critical of the Belarus’ government’s response to the impact that Chernobyl has had on public health, and specifically so of the research methodology of the Belarus Ministry of Health’s Clinical Research Institution for Radiation Medicine.

Publications: Reported that Bandazhevsky has published over 200 scientific papers and articles. After being released from pre-trial detention (and before imprisonment) Bandazhevsky completed further scientific works including a book published June 2000 on the impact of radiotope caesium-37 on humans living in the contaminated areas. Reported in January 2002 that he had prepared two scientific books while in prison which are to be published abroad.

Place of detention: Transferred to a ‘free settlement’ at a former military prison in Grodno region in spring 2004 where he is working as a caretaker and has been given a computer enabling him to carry out limited research.

Health: Suffers stomach ulcers and depression, for which he received medical attention during his pre-trial detention in 1999. Concerns that his health will deteriorate following return to prison affirmed in late 2003 when it was reported that although he has been receiving medical attention, his psychological well-being is poor.

Honorary Member: Swiss Romande, Norwegian and English PEN Centres.

Released: On 5 August 2005, after four years in prison. His release, however, was not unconditional. Restrictions for the next five years on travelling or holding senior political or managerial functions have been imposed, as well as regular reporting to the police.  PEN will continue to press for the lifting of all remaining restrictions against Profesor Bandazhevsky.

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