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Zmitser Dashkevich in a Minsk courtroom in March
MINSK -- The jailed leader of the Belarusian opposition Youth Front organization has had his term in solitary confinement prolonged until April, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Minsk-based human rights activist Nasta Louka told RFE/RL today that Zmitser Dashkevich has managed to send her a message from his labor camp informing her that his solitary confinement term has been prolonged.

"Zmitser has been in solitary confinement for three months now," Louka said. "In different labor camps where he had been transferred he also spent long periods in solitary confinement. Human rights defenders are very concerned over his situation, his health, and life. We demand that officials provide Dashkevich with appropriate conditions in jail."

Dashkevich and fellow Youth Front activist Eduard Lobau were sentenced on March 24 to two and four years in jail, respectively, after being found guilty of assaulting two people in Minsk on December 18 last year, one day before the disputed presidential election.

Dashkevich has been protesting his arrest and conviction while in custody and authorities have been transferring him to various labor camps where he has often been in solitary confinement.

Amnesty International has officially recognized Dashkevich and Lobau as prisoners of conscience.

Read more in Belarusian here
Mikalay Autukhovich in 2008
MINSK -- Jailed Belarusian businessman and opposition activist Mikalay Autukhovich has been transferred to a so-called "closed-regime location" (PKT), RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The Vyasna (Spring) human rights center in Minsk said it had received information about Autukhovich's transfer to the PKT for one month (see statement here).

The transfer is considered a form of punishment as an inmate spends all day and night in a cell either alone or with one or two cellmates. The convict is allowed just one hour to walk outside in a walled square.

It is not clear when Autukhovich began his PKT term.

Vyasna activists consider the transfer "the continuation of pressure imposed on Autukhovich by the authorities."

Autukhovich and his three co-defendants were convicted in May last year on charges of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition. Autukhovich was sentenced to five years and two months in jail.

The four were originally charged with preparing terrorist acts against officials in their hometowns of Vaukavysk, Hrodna, and Minsk. Those charges were later dropped.

Autukhovich and his colleagues say the cases against them are politically motivated.

Autukhovich is serving his prison term in a labor camp in the southwestern town of Ivatsevichy.

He currently has no legal representative and his lawyer, Paval Sapelka, was disbarred in March this year after having represented jailed presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau.

Read more in Belarusian here

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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