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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.

Anna Pavlikova in a Moscow court on August 16.

Russian authorities have moved from jail to house arrest one of two teenagers detained on charges of "involvement in a terrorist community” in a case set up by an undercover law enforcement officer, Russian news agencies report.

A Moscow court on August 16 ruled that Anna Pavlikova, who has been held since March, be placed under house arrest after a request by investigators and comments from her lawyer and family that her health had deteriorated.

Pavlikova, 18, and the other detainee, Maria Dubovik, 19, are members of the so-called New Greatness movement.

The Moscow court was scheduled later on August 16 to hear a request to have Dubovik also moved to house arrest.

Pavlikova has been suffering from panic attacks and a loss of hearing, while Dubovik is suffering from a tumor, problems with her digestive system, and a thyroid condition, their families and legal teams say.

Moscow residents protesting their detention used Facebook to organize what they called a Mothers' March on August 15, an event that drew hundreds of people in the pouring rain, with many participants carrying stuffed animals to emphasize the young age of the detainees.

Dubovik and Pavlikova were arrested in March along with eight other members of New Greatness. Six are being held in pretrial detention while four are under house arrest.

Those charged say they had turned their online chat criticizing the government into a political movement after the move was proposed by one of their members.

Later, it was revealed that the man who proposed the idea, wrote the movement's charter, and rented premises for the movement's gatherings was a special agent of the Federal Security Service (FSB).

With reporting by Novaya Gazeta, AFP, and Interfax

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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