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Jailed Belarusian Human Rights Activist Denied Visit To Dying Father

Human rights activist Ales Byalyatski has been jailed on tax evasion charges.
Human rights activist Ales Byalyatski has been jailed on tax evasion charges.
MINSK -- A prominent jailed Belarusian rights activist has been barred from visiting his dying father -- a day after he was given permission to do so, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

On December 20, the Belarusian Interior Ministry's Penitentiary Supervision Department (DVP) overruled a decision by Minsk's Pershamay District court to allow Ales Byalyatski to visit his father.

The previous day, Judge Tamara Vysotskaya had ruled that Byalyatski could be escorted by a convoy to see his father in Minsk.

But when Byalyatski's wife, Natallya Pinchuk, arrived at the Zhodzin detention center later that day, prison officials refused to take Byalyatski to his father's apartment.

They said they do not have the manpower to escort Byalatski to Minsk from the central town of Zhodzin where he is serving his sentence.

They also said the judge's written ruling granting permission for him to see his father contained mistakes.

Pinchuk drove back to the court in Minsk in an effort to have the "mistakes" corrected.

DVP officials decided on December 20 that Vysotskaya's decision should be overruled as "its implementation contradicts regulations on convicts' meetings with their relatives."

Pinchuk told journalists that when she went to Vysotskaya to ask for help, the judge told her that she cannot do anything to change the DVP's decision.

Byalyatski's colleague, Valyantsin Stefanovich, said that Byalyatski's father's health is very poor and said he could die at any moment.

Byalyatski, the head of the Vyasna (Spring) human rights center, was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced last month to 4 1/2 years in jail. Byalyatski pleaded not guilty and says the case is politically motivated.

The charges against Byalyatski stemmed from his reported use of personal bank accounts in Lithuania and Poland to receive funding from international donors for human rights activities in Belarus.

Read more in Belarusian here

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