Belarusian Activist Halts Hunger Strike

VITSEBSK, Belarus -- A jailed Belarusian opposition activist has said he is suspending his hunger strike while he is hospitalized in the western city of Vitsebsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Syarhey Kavalenka, 36, a member of the Belarusian Conservative Christian Party-Belarusian Popular Front, was brought on April 4 to the hospital from jail, where he is serving a 15-day prison term.

He went on a hunger strike to protest his arrests on March 25 and again on April 1.

Kavalenka was arrested the first time while holding banned opposition national white-red-white flags in Vitsebsk to mark the 93rd anniversary of the country's independence from Russia. He was sentenced to seven days in jail for "verbally insulting the police."

When Kavalenka was released on April 1, he was rearrested immediately after leaving the jail and sentenced to 15 days in prison for violating his three-year "limited freedom" sentence.

In January 2010, Kavalenka was sentenced to three years of "limited freedom" for "the illegal hanging of the banned Belarusian national flag" in a public place.

Kavalenka has been on a hunger strike since the first day of his initial arrest on March 25. He told RFE/RL on April 4 that he was transferred to Vitsebsk Hospital No. 1 after his blood pressure become very low on that day.

Doctors told RFE/RL that they cannot say exactly how long Kavalenka will stay in the hospital.


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