OUR GROUPS LETTERS OF CONCERN HELPED RELEASE MIKHAIL NIKOLAYEVICH CHIGIR OF BELARUS
Mikhail Nikolayevich Chigir was the second Prime Minister of Belarus, serving from 1994 to 1996.
Chigir was appointed as Prime Minister in July 1994, on the day following the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko as President.
In 1996, Chigir resigned as prime minister in protest of Lukashenko’s efforts to gain unlimited authority over the country.
The following year he became a signatory of Charter 97,[a declaration calling for democracy in Belarus. He began building an opposition cabinet and In January of 1999, he announced he would run for President of Belarus in order to unseat Lukashenko.
On March 31, 1999 Michail Chigir was registered as a candidate for president of the Republic of Belarus. A day before the registration – on March 30, 199 he was arrested and spent eight months in prison.
Mikhail Nikolayevich Chigir was accused not of political but economic violations according to Article 91 part 4 “ wide scale embezzlement” and Article 166 “abuse of power”. Punitive actions against Michail Chigir are evidence of the political character of “Chigir case”. Michail Chigir was imprisoned for taking part in the presidential campaign and for his political convictions.
On November 30, 1999 M. Chigir was released from prison to give a written undertaking not to leave the place of residence. The sitting of the court that was to be held on December 27 was postponed.
The Global Importune letter signing group began sending letters of concern on behalf of Mikhail Nikolayevich Chigir to officials in the government Belarus sometime around July 1999.
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