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Jailed Belarus Presidential Candidate Not Allowed To See Lawyer

Former opposition presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau in the dock during a court hearing in Minsk in April
MINSK -- The warden at a labor camp in eastern Belarus says that jailed former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau's lawyer cannot visit his client because Sannikau's life has been threatened, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Human rights activist Paval Levinau told RFE/RL that when he asked warden Vital Ahnistykau at the Vitsebsk labor camp why Sannikau's lawyer was unable to see his client, Ahnistykau said Sannikau wrote a letter to the labor camp's administration when he arrived at the penitentiary stating that his life is under threat.

"Ahnistykau said that because of that letter, Sannikau has been fully isolated from any contact with other inmates and special inquiries have been sent to all the penitentiaries where [Sannikau] was imprisoned in the past, asking about any problems he faced," Levinau said. "The warden added that the check into Sannikau's security and safety could last at least six more months."

When Levinau told the warden that barring Sannikau from meeting with his lawyer is a violation of Article 62 of the constitution, which guarantees legal assistance to any Belarusian at any time, Ahnistykau refused to comment.

Sannikau was jailed for five years in May for his part in demonstrations following the controversial presidential election in December 2010 that returned incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka to power.

Read more in Belarusian here