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OSCE Delegates Discuss Human Rights In Belarus, Russia, Ukraine

By RFE/RL
Former Belarusian presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau has criticized Minsk's continued detention of political prisoners, torture, unfair trials, and lack of basic freedoms in an address to OSCE parliament members at their winter meeting in Vienna.

Sannikau, who received asylum in Britain last year, on February 13 urged delegates to expand democratic standards throughout the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) region.

Parliament members also heard critical updates from civil-society representatives from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Turkey.

Isabel Santos, who chairs the OSCE's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Questions, said she remained "troubled" by "political prisoners" in Russia's Bolotnaya case and said she had expressed her "deep concern" regarding the rule of law in Russia and Azerbaijan.

She said she had asked the authorities for permission to visit political prisoners in Kazakhstan and Ukraine.

Ukraine is due to be discussed further as the meeting continues on February 14.

Also on February 14, Turkmen activists will discuss their campaign to press authorities to release information on the whereabouts of former Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov and dozens of others jailed in connection with an alleged assassination plot against the president in 2002.

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