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Belarusian Opposition Leader Wanted By Police After Defying Travel Ban

Belarusian opposition leader Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu
MINSK -- A Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate has been summoned by police after returning to Minsk from an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on human rights in Warsaw, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

The wife of Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, Volha, told RFE/RL that several police visited her apartment late on September 28 and gave her a subpoena requesting his presence at the Minsk police department at noon on September 29.

Earlier this month, a court in Minsk barred Nyaklyaeu from leaving Minsk without written permission and from traveling outside Belarus until his two-year suspended sentence is finished.

It also barred him from attending public gatherings and meetings, ordered him to present himself at a police station once a week, and told him to stay home between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Nyaklyaeu was given a two-year suspended sentence on May 20 for his role in a protest in Minsk on December 19 by some 15,000 people following the announcement of incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection.

Nyaklyaeu was severely beaten and then arrested. He was subsequently placed under house arrest until his trial started in May.

The opposition said the presidential vote was fraudulent and international election monitors described it as flawed.

Nyaklyaeu told RFE/RL in Warsaw on September 29 that he knows about the subpoena. He added that it is likely that Belarusian authorities "are making that noise intentionally in order to make me stay in Poland and ask for political asylum."

But Nyaklyaeu said: "I have said before and I am saying now that I shall stay in Belarus no matter what happens."

"I will return to Minsk and visit the police on October 3, so the police should not worry," he said.

He added that he understands that the Belarusian authorities can put him in jail now but, "as I said before, I consider myself a free man and do not agree with my verdict as I did not do anything wrong. I have never signed the protocols regarding my sentence and therefore I travelled to Warsaw despite all the bans."

Read more in Belarusian here