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Jailed Belarusian Activist Starts Hunger Strike

Mikalay Autukhovich
Mikalay Autukhovich
MINSK -- Jailed Belarusian businessman and opposition activist Mikalay Autukhovich has started a hunger strike, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Autukhovich's lawyer, Paval Sapelka, told RFE/RL that his client started the hunger strike on June 17.

According to Sapelka, Autukhovich needs dental care which the prison administration refuses to provide. Autukhovich wrote a request to the deputy head for medical issues of Belarus's Penalty Implementation Department asking for medical assistance in connection with his health condition, but he has not received a response.

Autukhovich is afraid that his request never reached the official in question, and so he started the hunger strike in order to draw attention to the issue, his lawyer says.

Autukhovich and three codefendants were found guilty on May 6 of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition. He was sentenced to five years and two months in jail.

The four were originally charged with preparing terrorist acts against officials in their native towns of Vaukavysk, Hrodna, and Minsk. Those charges were later dropped.

Autukhovich and his colleagues say the case is politically motivated.