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Officials Thwart Jailed Belarusian Politician's Visit From His Wife

Jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau

Jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau

MINSK -- The wife of jailed former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau was kept from meeting with her husband in a KGB detention center despite having permission to do so, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Iryna Khalip told RFE/RL that she and her mother-in-law, Alla Sannikava, came to the KGB detention center in Minsk on May 18 with a written court ruling permitting them to see Sannikau. But detention center officials said there would be no meeting and recommended they come back on May 19.

Khalip said they then tried to give a parcel with food and clothes to Sannikau, but officials refused to accept it. They said Sannikau was not being held at the detention center and his current whereabouts are unknown.

"We then rushed to another detention center on Volodarsky Street, but there we were told again that Sannikau was not there," Khalip said.

Khalip said she and her mother-in-law then called the third detention center in Minsk, but officials there told them that Sannikau had not been brought to that facility either.

Meanwhile, a duty officer at Belarusian KGB headquarters told RFE/RL that Sannikau is currently in the KGB detention center in Minsk. He said all meetings today between inmates and their relatives have been cancelled.

But when Khalip called the same officer, he told her that the KGB headquarters have nothing to do with the KGB detention center and he does not know why the KGB detention center officials gave Khalip and her mother-in-law erroneous information about Sannikau's whereabouts.

A court in Minsk sentenced Sannikau, a former deputy foreign minister and co-founder of the Charter 97 rights group, to five years in a maximum-security prison on charges of organizing mass protests following last year's disputed presidential election.

Khalip received a two-year suspended prison sentence on May 16 for her involvement in those protests.

Read more in Belarusian here