A LEADING Belarussian scientist who tried to highlight the disastrous effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster on the health of the country's children has been sentenced to eight years in a labour camp.
The jailing of Yuri Bandazhevsky, the former dean of the medical institute in the southern city of Gomel, appears to be part of a long-running campaign by President Alexander Lukashenko to play down the consequences of the world's worst nuclear accident.
Lukashenko presides over arguably Europe's most repressive regime. Reviled in the West, he was accused by two top former officials last week of helping to set up a death squad blamed for the disappearance of four opposition politicians in the past two years.
Bandazhevsky was convicted by a military court, ostensibly of taking bribes in exchange for college admission. He denied the corruption charge but, under Belarussian law, has no right of appeal. His family fears for his health as jail food is virtually inedible and he is receiving no medical attention for a stomach ulcer.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups monitoring the case said his conviction was linked to work aimed at establishing the full extent of damage caused by Chernobyl.
Human rights campaigners say the catalyst for Bandazhevsky's arrest was a study of children close to Gomel, 80 miles northeast of the Chernobyl plant. It found that 80% of children who had been exposed to the highest levels of radiation had irregular heart rhythms and other cardiac disorders which, in many cases, proved fatal.
"He has been breaking new ground," said Solange Fernex, a former French MEP and head of a group campaigning against the conviction. "Nobody has been able to carry out the number of autopsies he has done to show the effect of radiation on people's organs."
Belarus was especially badly hit by the Chernobyl accident. As much as 23% of the land was contaminated by the radioactive cloud, and some 500,000 children and nearly 2m adults are believed to live in the worst affected areas.
Lukashenko, who took to the streets of Minsk earlier this month on inline skates for Belarus's independence day, ahead of a re-election battle in September, has urged the international community to help with the clean-up. At home, however, he has refused to acknowledge the extent of the damage caused.
Vasily Nesterenko, the director of the Belarussian institute for radiation
security, said Bandazhevsky had been arrested soon after sending Lukashenko
a letter complaining about the handling of the clean-up. "He was jailed
because the health ministry does not like his findings," Nesterenko said.
Vous trouverez ci-joint les éléments d'informations concernant une sévère condamnation au Bélarus à l'encontre du professeur Badazhevsky qui s'est investit dans la recherche de la vérité sur les risques provoqués par la catastrophe de Tchernobyl.
18 juin 2001 le Pr. Yuri Bandazhevsky a été condamné
à 8 ans de réclusion
du Professeur Yuri Bandazhevsky par les médias irlandais, lors de
la conférence de presse de Ady Roche. Minsk, avril 2000
TIMES 22-07 Chernobyl exposé scientist is jailed
de discussion sur Tchernobyl
revue de Tchernobyl
DE L'UNESCO OCT 2000 Tchernobyl, on ferme... mais le débat
DE L'UNESCO OCT 2000 Biélorussie: «une catastrophe
personnel du professeur Badazhevsky
lettre du 30/08/00 de la Ministre de l'Aménagement du Territoire
et de l'Environnement du Gouvernement français, écrit au
Président du Belarus
ne connais pas le détail de ce que lui est reproché, mais
lorsqu'on lit l'avis du conseil économique et social des Nations
Unies du 8 février 2001 sur l'indépendance de la justice
dans ce pays, on ne peut qu'être particulièrement sceptique.