Jailed Belarusian Activist 'On Hunger Strike'

MINSK -- Belarusian activist Mikita Likhavid has gone on a hunger strike to protest being jailed for 3 1/2 years over a postelection demonstration, his mother has told RFE/RL's Belarus Service.

Alena Likhavid, who spoke with her son in the detention center, told RFE/RL that he considers the March 29 verdict illegal and is demanding its immediate cancellation.

She said Likhavid, 20, is also demanding that a witness who testified against him in court name those who made him "commit perjury" at the trial.

"My son said that he felt himself freer than the judge, the prosecutor, and the so-called victims in the courtroom," she told RFE/RL.

On March 29, Judge Natalya Pykina sentenced Likhavid to 3 1/2 years in a maximum security prison for taking part in "mass unrest" in December.

Likhavid, a member of the opposition Za Svabodu (For Liberty) movement, took part in a rally with thousands of opposition protesters on December 19 following that day's presidential election. The demonstrators were challenging the official results of the election that declared incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka the winner.

Likhavid is the eighth activist tried for organizing and/or participating in the unsanctioned mass protest in Minsk.

Five of the activists were given various jail terms, one was sentenced to "limited freedom," and two Russian citizens were fined.

Some 40 people have been charged with participation in the unsanctioned protest. Five of them were presidential candidates in the election.


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