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Belarusian Scientist Yuri Bandazhevsky Conditionally Released
August 15, 2005

The CHR was gratified to learn today that Belarusian scientist Yuri Bandazhevsky was conditionally released from prison on August 5, 2005, after having served four years of what had originally been an eight-year sentence. For six months he will be required to report regularly to the police. For five years he will be prohibited from assuming any managerial or political functions.

A researcher on the effects of radiation exposure, prior to his arrest in July 1999 under the presidential decree “On Urgent Measures for the Combat of Terrorism and Other Especially Dangerous Crimes,” Professor Bandazhevsky studied the effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the health of people living in proximity to that nuclear reactor who were seriously affected by its radioactive emissions. He was eventually charged with allegedly accepting bribes from students seeking admission to the Gomel Medical Institute, where he was rector. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and Amnesty International, no physical evidence was produced at his trial in early 2001 to support the government’s claim that Professor Bandazhevsky had received bribe money. Furthermore, the vice rector of the Gomel Medical Institute, who had made the original allegations against Professor Bandazhevsky, later formally withdrew them, stating that they had been made under intense duress while being interrogated by the authorities. After close examination of the facts of the case, the CHR concluded that Professor Bandazhevsky was arrested for his outspoken criticism of Belarusian government policies regarding the health effects of the Chernobyl disaster on the local population. Throughout his ordeal, Professor Bandazhevsky has always maintained his innocence.

While Professor Bandazhevsky will reportedly be permitted to resume his scientific work, the Belarusian authorities will garnish his wages until he pays a total of 35 million rubles (approximately U.S. $17,000), an amount the court claims represents a portion of the bribes that he allegedly received.

After his release from prison, Professor Bandazhevsky, who is 47 years old, reportedly said that he is in ill-health and intends to get a full medical check-up. He also said that he has written a book on his scientific views that will soon be published in France.

More detailed background on Professor Bandazhevsky’s case is provided in the case summary.