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Pastor Not Allowed To See Jailed Belarusian Activist

Syarhey Kavalenka
MINSK -- Belarusian prison authorities have prevented a pastor from visiting jailed opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka in a bid to persuade Kavalenka to end his hunger strike, which his relatives fear is threatening his life.

Authorities at a prison hospital in Minsk on March 6 blocked a meeting between Protestant Pastor Ernest Sabila and Kavalenka, saying such a visit must first be approved by the judge who sentenced Kavalenka in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

Kavalenka, 37, was sentenced in Vitsebsk in February to 25 months for an alleged parole violation.

He was transferred to a prison hospital in Minsk last week due to poor health.

Kavalenka was detained last December for allegedly violating the terms of his parole for an earlier conviction on charges of "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag."