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Belarusian Activist To Appeal Fraud Conviction

Activist Mikhas Bashura appears in court.
Activist Mikhas Bashura appears in court.
MINSK -- Belarusian opposition activist Mikhas Bashura says he will file an appeal after being convicted for fraud and fined the equivalent of $6,000 on October 19, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Bashura, 35, is an active member of the Tell the Truth campaign. He was arrested and charged with fraud in August. Minsk officials say he lied to a bank about his income in 2008 when helping his wife obtain a mortgage.

Bashura pleaded not guilty, saying inaccurate information regarding his monthly earnings was an unintentional error. He told RFE/RL after his release that he was happy to be out of jail. He also said he is going to appeal the verdict.

Bashura said the conditions in Belarusian jails are intolerable. He said many people who are healthy at the time of their detention leave detention centers with serious health problems.

"We were 26 people in a cell with 15 beds," Bashura told RFE/RL.

Tell the Truth activists say Bashura's case was politically motivated and connected with his participation in the campaign, which encourages Belarusians to speak out about social problems.

The campaign is organized by the Moving Forward movement, which is led by writer and civic activist Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu, a former chairman of the Union of Belarusian Writers.

The movement was stripped of its registration by a Minsk court on October 12 at the request of the municipal authorities.

In early October, Nyaklyaeu announced his candidacy for a presidential election scheduled for December 19.