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Belarus Latest: 31 People Still in Prison Over Election Protests

More than a month after the disputed Presidential election, more than 30 people remain in prison in Minsk over the 19 December protests.

Four Presidential candidates --- Alexei Mikhalevich, Vladimir Neklyaev, Andrei Sannikov, and Nikolai Statkevich --- are still held.

The other 27 accused include candidates' representatives, social activists, journalists, and a former police officer who spoke out on behalf of the protesters.

There has been limited communication with detainees. The first letter from Sannikov was received by his mother on 15 January. A letter from Natalya Radzina, the editor of the Charter 97 website, also emerged on the same day.  

Neither Sannikov nor Radzina have seen lawyers since 29 December. That is also the case for Neklyaev, Statkevish, and other detainees. Journalist Iryna Khalip last saw her attorney on 30 December.

On Thursday, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling for a travel ban and asset freeze on Belarusian government officials, members of the judiciary, and security officers involved in the post-election crackdown, the MEPs say in the resolution adopted at its plenary session in Strasbourg. Lifting these measures would be conditional upon the release of political prisoners.

The resolution condemned in “the strongest terms possible” the dispersal of the 19 December protest and the jailing of hundreds of people. It "calls for an independent and impartial international investigation into the events" under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. 

The MEPs said further targeted economic sanctions should be considered, such as a freeze of all financial aid provided by the International Monetary Fund, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. They called on the EU to ease its visa regime for Belarussian citizens and increase financial support to independent media outlets and NGOs promoting democracy.

Two Belarussian activists were fined on Thursday in the northern town of Navapolatsk after they held a placard, "Freedom for Those Jailed!" near the Mayor's Office. 

Victor Kalesnik, a representative in Navapolatsk of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikov, who is now in prison, was fined $230. Alexander Kalintsau was fined $22. alesnik and Alyaksandr Kalintsau

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