Monday, May 02, 2005
Minsk: Ukrainian protesters appeal sentences
The Minsk City Court is to hold a hearing on May 2 to consider complaints by Ukrainian citizens about their jail sentences. Five young Ukrainian men were arrested in Minsk on April 26 during the Belarusian police`s crackdown on an attempt by a few hundred anti-Lukashenko protesters to stage a march to mark the 19th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.
The following day, the Ukrainians, members of the National Alliance youth movement, were sentenced to nine to 15 days in jail. In particular, Ihor Huz, a member of the Lutsk City Council, was sentenced to 10 days, Andrei Bokach to 15 days, Oleksandr Hrymalyuk and Oleksandr Mishlai to 10 days each, and Oleksey Panasyuk to nine days.
Along with the Ukrainians, the police seized some 10 Belarusians and 14 Russian citizens. The Russians were granted an early release by the Minsk City Court on Saturday. They left for Moscow on the same day and the jailed Ukrainians continued to be held in a detention center in Minsk despite repeated appeals by Ukrainian officials to release them.
On May 3, National Alliance members plan to start a "blockade" of the Belarusian embassy in Kyiv unless their arrested comrades are released.
Another article suggests that hopes for the protesters' release are faint:
Ukraine’s foreign minister said that the Belarusian authorities have not bowed to public calls for the release of five Ukrainians jailed over a Chernobyl anniversary demonstration because of their “special attitude” toward Ukraine.
While 14 Russian nationals arrested during the protest have already been granted early release, the Ukrainian activists have remained in jail, the Interfax Ukraina news agency reported with reference to Minister Boris Tarasyuk on May 1.