Friday, May 12, 2006

"We Want Change!" -- An Update

Here's a quick update on a story posted a few days ago about the trial of Belarusian political dissident Artur Finkevich for crimes against the state; namely, decorating walls with the slogan, "We Want Change!" Finkevich was found guilty of "malicious hooliganism" yesterday in a Minsk courtroom and sentenced to two years of enforced labor. He had already been in jail since February 2nd. "The conditions in jail were, of course, inhuman. There were 17 people in a cell intended for 10. We lacked air all the time," Finkevich told journalists after the verdict. And he added, "I disagree with the verdict but I see no sense in appealing it."

And here's an even later-breaking report concerning Belarusian opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich ...

Milinkevich "was released from prison today after serving a 15-day sentence. Milinkevich had been sentenced to jail for taking part in an unauthorized antigovernment protest on April 26, the 20th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. Milinkevich ran against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in elections in March condemned as fraudulent by the opposition and Western governments.

Lukashenka's reelection triggered unprecedented protests in Belarus. Hundreds of opposition supporters were jailed for taking part in the protests.

Two other opposition politicians, Alyaksandr Bukhvostau and Zmitser Dashkevich, were also released today. They had been jailed for taking part in the same protest rally two weeks ago."

Thanks to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and especially their veteran writer, Jan Maksymiuk, for following these and so many other important stories -- stories that are generally ignored by the mainstream press (MSM).