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Belarusian Activist Hospitalized, Trial Halted


Trial Of Belarusian Political Activist Kavalenka Begins
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Syarhey Kavalenka has been on a hunger strike since he was arrested in December.

VITSEBSK, Belarus -- The trial of Belarusian opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka in the eastern city of Vitsebsk has been halted as doctors decided that he has to be hospitalized.

As the trial got under way on February 21, relatives said they were shocked over Kavalenka's frail appearance due to a hunger strike.

Earlier, a medical team examined Kavalenka and said his health was "satisfactory."

However, Kavalenka’s relatives insisted on the second medical examination, which was granted, and Kavalenka was then hospitalized.

Kavalenka, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front, was originally sentenced in January 2010 to three years of "limited freedom" for "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

He was arrested in December and charged with parole violation.

He was forcibly fed by prison guards in January but says he resumed his hunger strike 15 days ago.

Kavalenka, who lost at least 25 kilograms while on hunger strike since his arrest, says his case is politically motivated.

He could be sentenced to three years in jail if found guilty of violating his parole.

In a related development, four activists of the opposition Youth Front movement who traveled to Vitsebsk to support Kavalenka were arrested on February 21 and charged with "using vulgar words in public."
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