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Belarusian Activist Jailed 15 Days For Book Reading

Pavel Sevyarynets (file photo) ( August 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- A Minsk court has sentenced an opposition activist on charges of "repeatedly violating the law on meetings and mass gatherings," RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported.

Pavel Sevyarynets was arrested on August 19 along with 28 youth activists during a book reading in Brest, in southwestern Belarus.

The reading was organized by the regional branch of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front.

Sevyarynets, the leader of the Youth Front (Malady Front), was discussing three of his recently published books, one of which was written while he was serving a restricted-freedom sentence for organizing protests after Belarus's 2004 referendum.

The contentious referendum enabled President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to run for a third presidential term.

Sevyarynets told RFE/RL's Belarus Service earlier this week that a group of plainclothes police detained all in attendance and took them to a police station. There they were charged with participating in an unsanctioned meeting before being released. No charges were pressed against minors.

The Youth Front leader said police also accused the detainees of using illegally smuggled Ukrainian alcohol at the meeting and told them that counterfeit money bearing Lukashenka's likeness was found at the site.

Sevyarynets said after his release from detention that he planned to press charges of police harassment related to the incident.

Another 14 activists are still awaiting sentencing.

RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

RFE/RL Belarus, Ukraine, And Moldova Report

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