Siarhei Pratsirayeu. A man who got out of the “corridor of death”.

Minsk prison in Valadarski Street
Minsk prison in Valadarski Street

The “corridor of death” is a corridor in the prison basement where cells for death convicts are located, and there is one way out of it – to be shot. And exceptions never happen. But…

In 1998, the Human Rights Center “Viasna”, which was then called “Viasna-96”, received several letters written on the death row in the Minsk prison in Valadarski Street. The letters managed to leave the prison walls with the help of so called “prison mail”.

Among them was a letter from Siarhei Pratsirayeu dated 15 July, 1998. Siarhei Pratsirayeu was on the death row in jail No. 1 in Minsk together with Ivan Famin.

The letter had a poem titled “A letter written to the people”, as well as eight pages which detailed the circumstances of the criminal case in which Siarhei was sentenced to capital punishment.

The author claimed that his case was fabricated by fraudulent investigators, and reflected on the death penalty in Belarus: “We, Belarusians, were often surprised by the facts of people being illegally shot in the maniac Mikhasevich case (so called “Vitsebsk case”). But today people continue to be shot, in order to show the people that a fight against crime is underway. And what will happen when “extras” like me are shot? Then they will shoot ordinary people, because the machine of lawlessness is gaining momentum, and soon there will be no difference who to shoot, like in 1937.”

In early 1999, Ivan Famin’s mother reported that her son had been executed. And it logically suggested that all the people who were with him on death row were also dead.

But in April 1999, “Viasna” received a letter from Siarhei Pratsirayeu. He wrote from prison situated in the town of Hlybokaye. His death verdict was eventually replaced by life imprisonment. Why? There is an opinion that it is Siarhei Pratsirayeu who is the only death convict who was pardoned by the President.

Book «Capital punishment in Belarus»


Death verdics in Belarus since 1990