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Jailed Belarusian Hunger Striker Hospitalized

Syarhey Kavalenka

Syarhey Kavalenka

VITSEBSK -- A jailed opposition activist in the western Belarusian city of Vitsebsk was hospitalized today on the 10th day of his hunger strike, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Syarhey Kavalenka, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front, went on hunger strike to protest his recent arrests on March 25 and again on April 1.

Kavalenka was arrested the first time while holding three banned Belarusian national white-red-white flags in Vitsebsk to mark the 93rd anniversary of the country's independence from Russia. He was sentenced to seven days in jail for "verbally insulting the police."

When Kavalenka was released on April 1, he was rearrested immediately after leaving the jail and sentenced to 15 days in prison for violating his three-year "limited freedom" sentence.

In January 2010, Kavalenka was sentenced to three years of "limited freedom" for "the illegal hanging of the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

Kavalenka has been on a hunger strike since the first day of his first arrest on March 25. He told RFE/RL he is in Vitsebsk Clinic Hospital No. 1. His blood pressure became very low earlier this morning and jail officials took him to the clinic's cardiology department.

Kavalenka said from the hospital he has not yet decided if he will continue his hunger strike.

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