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Belarusian Activist's Trial Resumes With Changed Charge

Activist Mikhas Bashura
Activist Mikhas Bashura
A fraud case against Belarusian rights activist Mikhas Bashura resumed today with a modified charge, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

On October 15, Judge Kiryl Palulekh suspended the trial at the request of attorney Halina Korneva on the grounds of new evidence that might result in further charges against Bashura.

It became clear today that the charge against Bashura has been changed. He is now charged with "forging documents for another person." The previous charge against him was "forging documents."

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.

Several human rights activists who are present at the trial say that the charge has been modified to make it easier to convict Bashura. Bashura pleaded not guilty, saying inaccurate information regarding his monthly earnings was an unintentional error.

Tell the Truth activists say Bashura's case is politically motivated and connected with his participation in the campaign.

The Tell the Truth 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. It encourages Belarusians to speak out about social problems.

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

Nyaklyaeu earlier this month announced his candidacy for a presidential election scheduled for December 19.