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Jailed Belarusian Opposition Leader's Whereabouts Unclear

Former opposition presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau sits in a cage during a court hearing in Minsk in April.
MINSK -- The whereabouts of a jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate remains unclear, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Andrey Sannikau was transferred without warning from a labor camp in the eastern city of Babruysk earlier this month.

Sannikau's wife, journalist Iryna Khalip, told RFE/RL on November 23 that he was transferred from Babruysk labor camp to a detention center in the eastern city of Mahileu last week.

She said a member of the Mahileu Association of Lawyers tried to visit Sannikau in the detention center on November 23, but was told that Sannikau was transferred to a detention center in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

"We now are trying to find out if that information is true," Khalip told RFE/RL.

Punitive Transfer?

Sannikau was jailed for five years in May for his part in the street protests that broke out following the December presidential election that returned incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka to power.

In September, Sannikau's relatives were left uninformed about his whereabouts for two weeks. He was originally sent to a maximum-security labor camp in the northern city of Navapolatsak.

On September 21, Khalip was informed by Navapolatsak labor camp officials that he was in transit to a penitentiary in Babruysk and should arrive there by September 24.

However, Khalip was not able to find him at the labor camp in Babruysk on September 24.

It took almost two weeks before Sannikau reached the penitentiary after many days spent in special trains for transportation of convicts and in detention centers in various locations.

Sannikau's lawyers and relatives said the authorities never offered any explanation for his transfer to another labor camp hundreds of kilometers away.

Read more in Belarusian here