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Syarhey Kavalenka
MINSK -- Belarusian prison authorities have prevented a pastor from visiting jailed opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka in a bid to persuade Kavalenka to end his hunger strike, which his relatives fear is threatening his life.

Authorities at a prison hospital in Minsk on March 6 blocked a meeting between Protestant Pastor Ernest Sabila and Kavalenka, saying such a visit must first be approved by the judge who sentenced Kavalenka in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

Kavalenka, 37, was sentenced in Vitsebsk in February to 25 months for an alleged parole violation.

He was transferred to a prison hospital in Minsk last week due to poor health.

Kavalenka was detained last December for allegedly violating the terms of his parole for an earlier conviction on charges of "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag."
Syarhey Kavalenka in court in Vitsebsk on February 22
MINSK -- The opposition Youth Front movement and the United Civic Party (AHP) in Belarus have urged the Belarusian prosecutor-general to transfer jailed activist Syarhey Kavalenka to house arrest due to poor health caused by his ongoing hunger strike.

Kavalenka, 37, was sentenced in the eastern city of Vitsebsk in February to 25 months in jail for parole violation.

Kavalenka's relatives, who visited him in a jail hospital in Minsk on March 5, told RFE/RL that he looked weak and had lost some 30 kilograms since he started the hunger strike in December.

Kavalenka told his relatives he would continue the hunger strike.

He was detained in December 2011 for allegedly violating the terms of his parole on an earlier conviction on charges of "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag."

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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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