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Former Belarusian Presidential Candidates' Lawyer Disbarred


Lawyer Tamara Sidarenka (center, in file photo)

Lawyer Tamara Sidarenka (center, in file photo)

MINSK -- A Belarusian lawyer who represented two former presidential candidates at their trials earlier this year has been stripped of her license to practice law, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Justice Ministry's Qualification Commission did not give any official explanation for its decision to disbar Tamara Sidarenka. Sidarenka confirmed to RFE/RL that she has been informed her license was revoked but has not been given formal written notification.

Justice Ministry officials would neither confirm nor deny that Sidarenka's license to practice law has been annulled.

Sidarenka represented former candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu at his trial earlier this year on charges of organizing mass disorders following the December 19 presidential election.

Sidarenka was also involved in the defense of another former candidate, Ales Mikhalevich, after the license of his lawyer, Aleh Aheyeu, was annulled.

Nyaklyaeu, Mikhalevich, and several other opposition presidential candidates, along with hundreds of their supporters, were arrested on December 19-20 for protesting the perceived rigging of the election, in which incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was said to have won another presidential term in a landslide.

International election monitors said the vote was flawed.

Mikhalevich managed to escape prosecution and fled to the Czech Republic in March after he was released from a detention center. Nyaklyaeu received a two-year suspended prison term in May.

Three other former presidential candidates and dozens of opposition activists have been tried and jailed for their participation in the protests.

Sidarenka told RFE/RL that the decision to strip her of her license does not make sense, as the Justice Ministry awarded her last year with a diploma for "excellent work."

She earlier received a similar diploma from the Belarusian Bar Association.

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