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Prosecutors Seek Five Years Of 'Restricted Liberty' For Belarusian Union Officials

Union leaders Ihar Komlik (left) and Henadz Fyadynich appear in court on July 30.
Union leaders Ihar Komlik (left) and Henadz Fyadynich appear in court on July 30.

MINSK -- Prosecutors are seeking sentences of five years of "restricted liberty" in the high-profile trial in Belarus of two officials of an independent labor union that played an organizing role in street protests in 2017.

Prosecutor Liliyana Litvinyuk also asked the Lenin district court in Minsk on August 17 to confiscate the property of union leader Henadz Fyadynich and union accountant Ihar Komlik and bar them from occupying management positions for five years.

"Restricted liberty" is a suspended custodial sentence with parole-like restrictions.

Fyadynich and Komlik were charged with tax evasion in August 2017. Komlik was taken into pretrial custody at that time, but was released in October. The two were ordered not to leave Minsk.

Fyadynich and Komlik reject the charges, saying they are politically motivated punishment for the union's role in organizing protests in February-March 2017 against legislation that would impose a tax on the unemployed.

Critics of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the authoritarian leader who has held power in Belarus since 1994, say his government routinely uses the justice system to suppress dissent.

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