A United Nations human rights investigator on Tuesday condemned the sentencing of two prominent opposition leaders in Belarus to compulsory labour for organising a rally against President Alexander Lukashenko.
Adrian Severin, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Belarus, said their sentence of three years of restricted freedom had been cut to two years due to an amnesty linked to the 60th anniversary of the end of World War Two.
Nikolai Statkevich and Pavel Severinets helped stage one of the ex-Soviet state's largest recent protests against Lukashenko in October after the veteran leader won overwhelming support in a referendum to enable him to prolong his stay in power. Western countries have denounced the poll as rigged.
Severin, whose requests to visit Belarus have been denied, told the annual U.N. Commission on Human Rights in March that Lukashenko recognised no "constitutional, legal or institutional limitation".
Based in London, we are an informal group dedicated to supporting democracy and human rights throughout
the former Soviet Union. Our aims are:
Informing the public about issues in this area that receive little coverage in the Western media.
Staging peaceful demonstrations and letter-writing campaigns in support of specific causes.
Supporting and publicising nonviolent pro-democracy groups throughout the region.
Encouraging European and American involvement.
Support the Belarusian cartoonists
Third Way, the Belarusian organisation whose members are being prosecuted for producing satirical cartoons about Lukashenka,
have set up a web page where you can make a donation via PayPal. The group urgently
need money for their legal defence and operating expenses. Please give what you can today! Read more
We are continuing to focus our efforts on the Belarusian prisoner of conscience Mikhail Marinich.
We are campaigning for him to receive proper medical treatment, to be permitted to see his family,
and ultimately to be released from prison pending a review of his case. You can help by distributing
our factsheets and letters.
Members of these groups have joined our blog to share their views and experiences.