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Controversial Belarusian Doctor Promoted

Presidential candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu lies in a hospital bed after being beaten during clashes between protesters and police in Minsk on December 19.
MINSK -- A Belarusian doctor who was banned by Brussels from entering the European Union was promoted today to head the Health Care Committee at the Minsk mayor's office, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

On February 2, EU officials added Viktar Syrenka, chief physician at the Minsk Ambulance Center, to a list of Belarusians not allowed to enter the EU.

The ban came after it was reported that on December 19, Syrenka certified that opposition presidential candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu was fit to be sent to a pretrial detention center, even though Nyaklyaeu had been beaten unconscious hours before and was unable to stand or walk.

Nyaklyaeu was taken on a stretcher from the hospital to the detention center.

Nyaklyaeu was injured after he was attacked by police during the dispersal of some 15,000 opposition activists and their supporters who gathered on Minsk's Independence Square on December 19 to protest the announcement of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection.

Opposition activists claim the election was rigged. It was deemed neither free nor fair by international election monitors.

Hundreds of demonstrators were arrested in the days and weeks following the postelection protest, including nearly all of the opposition presidential candidates.

Read more in Belarusian here