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Belarusian Oppositionist Skips KGB Meeting, Reportedly Flees Country

Natalya Radzina in Kobryn in February

Natalya Radzina in Kobryn in February

MINSK-- A Belarusian opposition activist facing trial for participating in "mass unrest" in Minsk in December has reportedly fled the country, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Natalya Radzina, chief editor of the opposition Khartiya-97 website, was officially charged with participation in an unsanctioned mass protest against the results of the December 19 presidential election that gave incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka another term.

Belarus's State Security Committee (KGB) summoned Radzina to Minsk on March 31 for questioning but she did not show up for her appointment.

Radzina's father, Valyantsin Radzin, told RFE/RL that early today an unidentified person called him by phone and said, "Natalya is out of the country now."

Radzin said the caller did not say where his daughter was and added that Natalya had not contacted her parents herself.

Radzin also said that on March 31, a KGB officer called him and asked him where his daughter was. Radzin answered that she left Kobryn, her hometown in western Belarus, in the morning for the capital, Minsk, aboard the Brest-Minsk train.

The KGB officer said a preliminary investigation showed Radzina got off the train in the town of Lunintsy and did not reboard.

Protesters Jailed

Radzina's mother, Nadzeya Radzina, told RFE/RL that it appeared her daughter decided to "escape the fate of other opposition activists" who were sentenced to prison terms for taking part in December's unsanctioned anti-Lukashenka protest.

Eight activists have been tried for organizing and/or participation in the Minsk protest, which was attended by several thousand people.

Five of the activists were given jail terms, one was sentenced to "limited freedom," and two Russian citizens were fined.

A total of some 40 people have been charged with participation in the unsanctioned protest. Five of them were presidential candidates in the election.

The KGB's public relations center in Minsk has been unavailable to comment on Radzina's disappearance.

Former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, who is also officially charged with organization of and participation in the December 19 protest, received political asylum in the Czech Republic last month.

Read more in Belarusian here