Belarusian Presidential Candidate's Lawyer Kept From Seeing Him

December 16, 2011
MINSK -- The lawyer of jailed former Belarusian presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau has again been blocked from seeing her client at a labor camp in the eastern city of Vitsebsk, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.
Sannikau's wife, Iryna Khalip, told RFE/RL that Maryna Kavaleuskaya has been barred from seeing her client for more than one month after being refused access to him on December 15.
"The labor camp's warden, [Vital] Ahnistykau, has been kindly talking to the lawyer trying to persuade her that there is no need 'to waste time and come here,'" Khalip said.
Ahnistykau also told the lawyer, Kavaleuskaya, that the labor camp's "censorship unit" does not allow Sannikau's letters to be sent out, Khalip said, adding that only one letter in which Sannikau wrote that he is doing well was allowed to be sent to his family.
On December 14, human rights activist Paval Levinau told RFE/RL that when he visited the labor camp this week and asked Ahnistykau why Sannikau's lawyer is unable to see his client, Ahnistykau said Sannikau wrote a letter to the labor camp's administration when he arrived at the penitentiary stating that his life is under threat.
"Ahnistykau said that because of that letter, Sannikau has been fully isolated from any contact with other inmates and special inquiries have been sent to all the penitentiaries where [Sannikau] was imprisoned in the past, asking about any problems he faced," Levinau said. "The warden added that the check into Sannikau's security and safety could last at least six more months."
When Levinau told the warden that barring Sannikau from meeting with his lawyer is a violation of article 62 of the constitution, which guarantees legal assistance to any Belarusian at any time, Ahnistykau refused to comment.
Sannikau was jailed for five years in May for his part in a mass demonstration following a controversial presidential election in December 2010, which returned incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka to power.