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Stanislau Shushkevich (screen grab from Russian TV)
Belarus's first post-Soviet leader, Stanislau Shushkevich, says authorities have prevented him from leaving the country by removing him from a train bound for the capital of neighboring Lithuania.

Shushkevich, 77, said he was taken off the train heading to Vilnius early on March 18 by border guards who offered no explanation.

He called it a sign of "lawlessness" and added that, since he earns part of his income by working abroad, it was also an infringement on his economic rights, according to RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

Several prominent journalists and opposition members have been barred from leaving the country in recent weeks.

The government has refused to comment on the existence of a suspected blacklist of people barred from leaving the country. Such a ban would contradict a Belarusian law that denies exit only to debtors, draft dodgers, and criminal suspects.

Shushkevich led Belarus from independence in 1991 until he was ousted from power in 1994.

He pursued market reforms during his rule but last year suggested that regime change was the only way out of the current economic crisis.

With AP and AFP reporting
Dzmitry Kanavalau (left) and Ulad Kavalyou are seen in the defendants' cage before court hearings in Minsk on September 15, 2011.
MINSK – The mother of one of the men sentenced to death for the bombing of a subway station in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, that killed 15 people has asked President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to postpone her son’s execution for at least one year.

Lyubou Kavalyova told RFE/RL that she has asked Lukashenka to delay the execution until after her son receives a respone to his appeal to the United Nations over the death sentence.

Lukashenka on March 14 rejected a formal appeal made by the two convicts against their execution.

Kavalyova's son, Ulad Kavalyou, and Dzmitry Kanavalau were found guilty in April 2011 of setting off a bomb in an underground station in Minsk. They were sentenced to death in November.

Germany has also appealed to Belarus not to execute the two men. The German Foreign Ministry has summoned the Belarusian ambassador to hear Germany's concerns.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, told journalists on March 16 that Lukashenka's rejection of the execution appeal by the two men on March 14 filled Berlin with "great concern" that the sentences would imminently be carried out.

Seibert added there were "quite considerable doubts and questions" regarding the case against the two men.

The spokesman told reporters that "carrying out the death penalty in these two cases would further strain relations between Germany and Belarus."

Fifteen people died and more than 2,000 were injured in the attack.

With AFP and ITAR-TASS reporting

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