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Jailed Belarusian Opposition Leader's Whereabouts Confirmed


Andrey Sannikau

Andrey Sannikau

MINSK -- A lawyer for Andrey Sannikau says the jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate is in a detention center in the eastern city of Mahileu, ending a week of uncertainty over his whereabouts, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
Andrey Varvashevich, told RFE/RL on Seotember 27 that he met with his client at the detention center in Mahileu on September 26. Varvashevich said Sannikau is very tired, as he has been transferred from one detention center to another for more than a week. Sannikau has no idea why he is being transferred to another labor camp to serve his jail term.
"His defense is doing everything to protect him and his rights," Varvashevich said.
Sannikau was found guilty of organizing mass disorders in Minsk on December 19 and sentenced in May to five years in jail.
He was originally sent to a maximum-security labor camp in the northern city of Navapolatsak. On September 21 Sannikau's wife, Iryna Khalip, was informed by Navapolatsak labor camp officials that he was in transit as of the previous day to a penitentiary in the eastern city of Babruysk, and should arrive there by September 24.
When Khalip arrived on September 26 at the penitentiary in Babruysk to see her husband, officials told her that he was not there, but at the Mahileu detention center.
Khalip told RFE/RL that her husband was kept for several days in a detention center in the eastern city of Vitsebsk before being taken to the detention center in Mahileu on September 25.
"I am sure my husband is currently under pressure, as they are making his life miserable while in detention, and I do not think they want to make him ask for clemency, it looks as though they are just doing it because they received instructions [from high ranking officials]," Khalip told RFE/RL.
Former jail inmates told RFE/RL that the transfer over a period of several days to another jail is a very "tough ordeal," as detainees and convicts are held in tiny temporary cells in "inhumane conditions."

A prisoner's life in transit is misery, much worse than in a labor camp, as there are no sanitary facilities, no newspapers, and no letters, and very often no opportunity to talk to anyone, former inmates told RFE/RL.

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