Another Key Figure In Milinkevich Team Jailed In Belarus

March 9, 2006 -- A court in Minsk today sentenced three opposition leaders to 15 days in prison for organizing an unsanctioned rally with voters in Minsk.

Among those jailed was a prominent opposition leader, Vintsuk Vyachorka, deputy head of the election campaign staff of Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate in Belarus' March 19 presidential election.

The activists were detained on March 8 after Milinkevich met voters at two rallies in Minsk to urge them to back him in the election.

Vyachorka today said his sentence was "totally illegal."

Another Belarusian court on March 7 heavily fined another opposition leader and Milinkevich's ally, Anatol Lyabedzka, and jailed one of Milinkevich's regional campaign leaders for 15 days for similar offenses.

Belarus's authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is running for a third term in the election. Belarusian oppositionist groups, rights advocates, the European Union, and the United States have all said they expect the vote to be flawed.