Belarus: Siarhei Kavalenka released, many remain imprisoned


Belarusian political activist Siarhei Kavalenka has been released after asking Lukashenko for a pardon.  The member of the Conservative Christian Party and Belarusian Popular Front had been jailed for 2 years and 1 month in February this year supposedly for breaking parole.

On 14 May 2010, the Oktyabrsky District Court in Vitebsk sentenced Mr. Kavalenka to three years „restricted liberty”. Criminal proceedings were launched against the activist after he hung a Belarusian white-red-white flag, an alternative to the official flag, on top of the main New Year’s tree in Vitebsk on 7 January 2010. During his arrest, Mr. Kavalenka was severely beaten by militia officers. He was later charged under Article 339.1 of the Criminal Code (deliberate acts violating public order) and Article 363.2 (violence or threats of violence against law enforcement officials on duty). 

Mr Kavalenka told Charter 97 that he was thrilled to be with his wife and two children, but does not know how long he will be at liberty. He says that the authorities are playing a game, and believe that he has been frightened enough and will now keep his head low.  He says that he has no intention of doing this and will continue to promote Belarus’ national symbols. 

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