Restrictions On Belarusian-American Political Strategist Shkliarov Eased


MINSK -- The restrictions on Belarusian-American political strategist Vitali Shkliarov have been loosened, according to his lawyer, who says his client must now remain in the Belarusian capital instead of being confined to house arrest.

Anton Hashynski said on October 20 that the terms of his Shkliarov's retrial restrictions were most likely changed because of his mother’s very serious health condition.

Due to the change, Shkliarov was able to visit his mother in a Minsk clinic where she is being treated for an unspecified "serious" illness, Hashynski told the website.

Shkliarov’s detention by Belarusian security agents in late July has angered U.S. government officials, who have called his jailing "unjust."

Shkliarov, who has worked on political campaigns for former President Barack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States, and for the Russian socialite Ksenia Sobchak, was arrested in his native city of Homel in southeastern Belarus on July 29, less than two weeks before the country's August 9 presidential election.

He has said he was visiting his parents on the trip, but law enforcement officials have asserted he was trying to assist blogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski register as a candidate in the election. Tsikhanouski himself was detained prior to the election; his wife Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya then stood in his place and has since become a leading Belarusian opposition activist.

The official results of the election that handed victory to incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, have sparked mass protests and have been contested by Tsikhanouskaya, whose supporters and opposition figures claim she won the vote.

The European Union and the United States have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate ruler of Belarus, characterizing the election as fraudulent.

Shkliarov was among several other individuals jailed before the election with whom Lukashenka met on October 10.

In recent days, several opposition activists present at the meeting with Lukashenka, were either transferred to house arrest or released and ordered not to leave Minsk.

With reporting by