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Belarusian Activist To Face Trial For Allegedly Insulting Police

Belarusian rights activist Syarhey Kavalenka

Belarusian rights activist Syarhey Kavalenka

VITSEBSK, Belarus -- An opposition activist in Belarus has been charged with insulting police in a dispute about a change in his parole restrictions and will face trial next week, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Syarhey Kavalenka, 36, is a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front. In January 2010, he was sentenced to three years of "limited freedom" for "the illegal display of the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

In accordance with that verdict, Kavalenka has to report to local parole police every Thursday and stay home between 9.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m.

Kavalenka's wife, Alena, told RFE/RL that, on November 24, the parole officers told her husband that "from now on he has to stay at home after 7.30 p.m." Kavalenka refused to sign the document confirming that he was informed about the changes and agrees with them.

According to his wife, Kavalenka called the changes to his parole restriction "groundless." Later the same day, several police officers from Vitsebsk's Pershamay district police department came to their apartment and took Kavalenka into detention.

The police informed the activist that he was charged with "verbally insulting police using vulgar words."

Kavalenka spent a night in the police department and was brought to the Pershamay District Court early on November 25. The hearing was postponed to December 5 after Kavalenka demanded his lawyer be present.

If found guilty, Kavalenka could be sent to a labor camp to serve his remaining "limited freedom" term there.

Read more in Belarusian here