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Belarusian Activists Banned From Holding Rally For Tymoshenko

Belarusian rights activist Ryhor Hryk
Belarusian rights activist Ryhor Hryk
BARANAVICHY, Belarus -- Officials in the central Belarusian town of Baranavichy have denied activists permission to hold a gathering to show support for former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Ryhor Hryk of the Movement For Liberty told RFE/RL that he received a letter on October 11 from Baranavichy officials saying that "the public gathering in Belarus to support...Tymoshenko could be construed by the Ukrainian government as interference in Ukraine's internal affairs, and therefore cannot be held."

Hryk told RFE/RL the official decision is "absurd, because I am not calling on anyone to overthrow the legally elected government of Ukraine. I just want to express moral support for Yulia Tymoshenko."

Hryk said article 35 of the constitution guarantees gatherings, marches, and assemblies for all citizens and "Belarusian officials are depriving me of that right."

He said this is the fifth rally Baranavichy officials have refused to give him permission for and he will appeal to the Prosecutor-General's Office as "my constitutional rights are being abused."

Hryk wanted to hold a gathering in support of Tymoshenko on October 16 in Baranavichy's Old Park.

He visited Ukraine earlier this year, attended Tymoshenko's trial, and participated in public actions in Kyiv in her support.

Tymoshenko was sentenced today to seven years in jail on charges of abuse of her official position stemming from a 2009 natural gas deal with Russia.

Read more in Belarusian here