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Belarusian Activist, Journalist Jailed

MINSK -- An activist of the European Belarus civil campaign and an independent journalist were sentenced to jail in Minsk today for taking part in an unsanctioned rally, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Mikita Kavalenka and Alyaksandr Barazenka were detained on January 8 when Kavalenka staged a protest in front of the KGB headquarters in Minsk, demanding the release of opposition activists. Barazenka was filming the unsanctioned action as a journalist for the Belsat TV satellite channel.

The Minsk Central Court ruled that Barazenka is equally responsible for the unsanctioned public action as he has filmed similar unsanctioned actions in the past. He was given an 11-day sentence and Kavalenka will be jailed for 15 days.

Barazenka was arrested last month for filming an unsanctioned demonstration by the Ukrainian women activist group Femen, which was also staged in front of KGB headquarters.

He was released after spending several hours in custody.

Barazenka announced in the courtroom that he has started a hunger strike to protest his arrest and sentence, saying he was not participating in the protest but was filming it as part of his work as a journalist.

Activist Paval Vinahradau, who was in the courtroom during today's trial, told RFE/RL that Judge Alyaksandr Khadanovich did not even agree to summon the KGB officers who arrested Barazenka and Kavalenka to the court to testify.

Vinahradau said that is a violation of procedural regulations.

Read more in Belarusian here