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Belarusian Opposition Leader Sentenced To 10 Days In Jail

Belarusian poet and politician Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu
Belarusian poet and politician Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu

MINSK -- A court in Belarus has sent opposition leader Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu to jail for 10 days after ruling that he made calls for an illegal public gathering.

The Lenin District Court in Minsk ruled on November 1 that Nyaklyaeu's words in an interview with BelSAT television on October 16, when he said that "if there is a need to defend somebody's rights, it is necessary to go out of the houses and defend them," qualified as calls to hold a public event without permission from the authorities.

Nyaklyaeu was expressing his opinion about an antigovernment protest that was being planned for October 21. He did not attend.

Nyaklyaeu, a prominent poet and former presidential candidate, was given a two-year suspended sentence for his role in a December 2010 protest against the disputed reelection of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

His incarceration comes two days after another opposition leader and former presidential candidate, Mikalay Statkevich, was detained in Minsk.

Statkevich's wife said on October 31 that her husband was placed in a detention center in the capital to serve a five-day jail term stemming from a ruling that he took part in an unsanctioned rally on September 8.

Statkevich's arrest came a day before he had been scheduled to travel to Kyiv, where he was expected to speak at the session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly -- a forum linking the European Parliament and the parliaments of Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia that was established to promote closer political and economic ties.

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