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Jailed Belarusian Activist's Friends Kept From Seeing Him On His Birthday

Jailed Belarusian activist Syarhey Kavalenka
Jailed Belarusian activist Syarhey Kavalenka
VITSEBSK, Belarus -- The friends and colleagues of a political activist jailed in eastern Belarus have been prevented from visiting him on his birthday, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Syarhey Kavalenka, 37, is a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front in the eastern city of Vitsebsk.

Police detained Kavalenka on December 19 and charged him with violating his parole conditions.

Kavalenka's birthday on January 16 also marks the 29th day of a hunger strike he started to protest his detention.

Kavalenka's friends took flowers to the detention center in Vitsebsk where he is currently being kept, but jail officials did not allow them to see Kavalenka and did not accept the flowers.

Kavalenka's supporters later took the flowers to his mother, Lidziya Kavalenka.

Kavalenka was sentenced in January 2010 to three years' "limited freedom" for "illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

The Belarusian opposition often uses the white-red-white banner of the short-lived 1918 Republic of Belarus, which also served as the first flag of post-Soviet Belarus until it was replaced and outlawed in 1995.

Kavalenka could be sentenced to three years in jail if found guilty of violating his parole.

Read more in Belarusian here