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Belarusian 'Mothers 328' On Hunger Strike Over Drug Sentences


The hunger-striking women's group is named after Article 328 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, under which some drug-related crimes carry lengthy prison sentences. (file photo)

At least 14 women in cities and towns across Belarus have been on a hunger strike for days, demanding the release of relatives imprisoned on drugs-related charges and liberalization of anti-narcotics legislation.

The hunger-striking women call themselves "Mothers 328" after Article 328 of the Belarusian Criminal Code, under which some drug-related crimes carry prison sentences of five to 25 years.

Most of the women began their fasting in protest on April 27. They include residents of the town of Kalinkavichy in the southeastern Homel region, the village of Vostrau in the Minsk region, and the eastern cities of Mahileu and Vitsebsk.

The strikers are demanding changes in the legislation to make it more lenient and a review of the sentences handed down to relatives convicted of drug-related crimes.

Seven hunger strikers in Kalinkavichy met with a presidential envoy Natallya Kachanava on May 2, urging her to convey their demands to President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

Lukashenka has made no comment on the matter since then.

Hunger strikers had expected to meet with Prosecutor-General Alyaksandr Kanyuk on May 4, but the meeting was called off at the last minute and was not immediately rescheduled.

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