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UN Official Calls For Probe Into Belarusian Journalists' Deaths

(RFE/RL) 11 November 2005 -- The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, Adrian Severin, today called on Belarusian authorities to investigate the murder of two journalists and end what he called "systematic harassment and persecution" of independent media.

Severin said in a statement that the killings of Veranika Charkasava and Vasil Hrodnikau must be resolved and their perpetrators prosecuted.

Charkasava, a correspondent for the trade-union newspaper "Salidarnasts," was stabbed to death in her Minsk apartment in October 2004. Hrodnikau, a reporter for the "Narodnaya volya" newspaper, was found dead near his home in Minsk last month.

In his statement, Severin criticizes Belarusian authorities for harassing "Narodnaya volya" and urges them to respect freedom of opinion and expression.

Opposition Leader Transferred

In related news, reports from Minsk said opposition leader Mikola Statkevich was transferred to house arrest today.

Statkevich, chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, was sentenced to two years of corrective labor last year for staging a protest rally in Minsk.