Jailed scientist granted parole

September 2, 2005

Detained Belarusian scientist Yury Bandazheuski, former rector of Gomel Medical University and an Amnesty International "prisoner of conscience", has been released on parole.

He became eligible for parole earlier this year, having served two thirds of his eight-year sentence, but his application was denied, seemingly because he refused to admit to the charges against him.

Professor Bandazheuski was convicted of taking bribes from university entrance candidates, but he said the charges were politically motivated. He said his real "offence" was his research on the long-term medical consequences of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Despite serious health problems, he completed a number of articles and books while in prison.

"If I had not done so, and had not been able to get up in the morning in the hope of being able to go on doing something there, I would have certainly perished," he said.

Professor Bandazheuski said he hoped to return to a more active research role. His parole terms include police supervision for several months, the payment of a fine of 35 million Belarusian rubles (£9,000) and a ban on leaving the country or holding a "post of responsibility" for five years.

But he said he hoped to organise "further research on the survival of the human being under exposure to hostile environmental factors - not only radiation, but many others".

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