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Jailed Belarusian Opposition Figure Transferred To Harsher Prison

Maryna Adamovich with husband Mikalay Statkevich (file photo)
Maryna Adamovich with husband Mikalay Statkevich (file photo)

A court in Belarus has decided to transfer jailed Belarusian opposition politician Mikalay Statkevich to a maximum-security prison for alleged rules infractions committed at a lesser prison facility.

The decision was handed down on May 4 after a closed-door trial at a penal colony in the eastern city of Shklou where the former presidential candidate was being held.

Judge Svyatlana Barantsava found Statkevich guilty of "systemic violation of the prison's internal regulations" and ruled that he must be moved to a cell in a high-security facility.

He will be held at the new facility until the end of his six-year prison term, which ends in late 2016.

Statkevich's wife, Maryna Adamovich, who was present at the hearing, told RFE/RL that her husband accepted the judge's decision with no emotion.

Statkevich was found guilty of "organizing mass disturbances" following authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection in December 2010.

Statkevich, representing the Belarusian Social Democratic Party, finished with just over 1 percent of the vote in the 2010 poll.

Of the several presidential candidates who were detained in the wake of the election, Statkevich is the only one who remains in prison. In some cases those who were released received presidential pardons.

According to Adamovich, Statkevich repeated his refusal to ask for clemency from President Lukashenka.

Statkevich pleaded not guilty to the original charge leveled against him and has insisted that his imprisonment was politically motivated.

In January, Statkevich was transferred to the penal colony in Shklou after spending three years at a maximum-security prison in the city of Mahileu. He had been sent to that facility after he was found to have violated regulations at the Shklou facility.

Following the May 4 decision, Belarusian opposition activist and former political prisoner Zmitser Dashkevich described Statkevich as the most influential political prisoner in Belarus today.

He suggested that penal-colony authorities could not allow Statkevich to openly share his political views and ideas among the some 2,000 inmates at the facility.

The co-chairman of the opposition Belarusian Christian Democratic Party, Paval Sevyarynets, told RFE/RL that the decision to send Statkevich to the maximum-security penitentiary was a fait accompli.

Sevyarynets added that his party had begun collecting signatures on a petition demanding Statkevich's immediate release.

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