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Belarusian Activists Jailed For Holding Rally For Colleagues


Opposition leader Zmitser Dashkevich sits inside a guarded cage during a court hearing in Minsk on March 22.

Opposition leader Zmitser Dashkevich sits inside a guarded cage during a court hearing in Minsk on March 22.

MINSK -- Two Belarusian activists have been sentenced in Minsk to short jail terms for holding a protest rally in support of two colleagues, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Ryhor Astapenya was sentenced to 10 days and Ivan Shyla a 13 days over March 22 unsanctioned protest.

The two were arrested when they and several other activists unfolded a big banner saying "Hands off the Youth Front!" outside Minsk's Moscow district court.

The court is hearing the trial of unregistered opposition Youth Front movement leader Zmitser Dashkevich and a second Youth Front activist, Eduard Lobau.

Investigators say Dashkevich and Lobau attacked and beat two people in Minsk. They were detained two days before the presidential election on December 19.

Dashkevich and his supporters say the case against him is politically motivated.

Dashkevich's lawyer, Paval Sapelka, who also represented former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, was officially disbarred on March 3.

Sapelka is one of several lawyers in Belarus who have been disbarred in recent weeks after agreeing to represent an opposition activist.

Read more in Belarusian here
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