After months, the Belarusian authorities have finally released political analyst Vitali Shkliarov from jail, transferring him to house arrest, his lawyer Anton Gashinsky told the newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Businessman and opposition figure Yury Vaskrasenski also confirms that Shkliarov is now confined at his mother’s home under his personal guarantee that he won’t flee the country. “[Shkliarov] didn’t have the money for a hotel room and he had nowhere else to go,” Vaskrasenski told Novaya Gazeta. “He’s feeling great and he’s reading Yeltsin’s book, ‘Presidential Marathon.’”
Vitali Shkliarov has worked on several major political campaigns around the world, including campaigns by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, and Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak.
The Belarusian authorities arrested Shkliarov in July 2020 on charges of plotting to incite riots, alleging that he planned to mobilize protesters around the blogger Sergei Tikhanovsky (Siarhei Tsikhanouski), whose wife became Belarus’s opposition leader after election officials refused to register his candidacy. Shkliarov maintains his innocence and says he was harassed and humiliated by guards while in pretrial detention.
On October 10, Shkliarov was one of a dozen opposition figures who met personally with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (Alyaksandr Lukashenka) at a roundtable in a KGB prison to discuss potential constitutional reforms in Belarus. The authorities subsequently transferred three of the prisoners who participated in the meeting to house arrest: Dmitry Rabtsvich (the director of the “PandaDoc” I.T. company), attorney Ilya Salei, and Yury Vaskrasenski, who says he was later instructed to draft possible constitutional amendments and recommend the release of specific persons “who have turned out to be less a public threat to our country than they seemed initially.”