Mon. Apr 22nd, 2024

TALLINN, Estonia — A Belarusian man sentenced to jail over a satirical drawing of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko has died behind bars, the nation’s main rights group reported on Monday.

Mikalai Klimovicz, a 61-year-old blogger and activist from southern Belarus, died on Sunday whereas in jail within the northeastern metropolis of Vitebsk, simply two months into his sentence, the Viasna Human Rights Heart mentioned in a press release.

Klimovicz in February was sentenced to at least one 12 months in jail for drawing a caricature of Lukashenko and sharing it on social media. He suffered a number of bouts of coronary heart illness throughout his trial.

Belarusian authorities on Monday confirmed Klimovicz’s dying, however didn’t make clear what brought on it. The Viasna assertion mentioned that Klimovicz was registered as disabled resulting from his sickness, a stroke and a fancy coronary heart operation that he had undergone, however was denied medicine whereas in jail.

“Earlier than the decision, the blogger mentioned that he might die behind bars, as he must take a considerable amount of robust medicines,” the Viasna assertion mentioned.

Throughout his trial, Klimovicz advised reporters that the true cause for his prosecution was his “very agency” help of Ukraine and opposition to Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, in addition to to Lukashenko’s insurance policies.

Marija Pejčinović Burić, Secretary Normal of the Council of Europe, tweeted that she “deplored” Klimovicz’s dying. “My ideas are along with his household and mates,” she added.

Belarus was rocked by mass protests in 2020 following a presidential election that gave Lukashenko — in energy since 1994 — a brand new time period in workplace, however that was broadly regarded by the opposition and Western nations as fraudulent. Authorities responded with a large crackdown that noticed over 35,000 folks arrested, 1000’s overwhelmed by police and dozens of NGOs and impartial media being shut down.

Opposition chief Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya on Monday demanded an impartial medical examination of Klimovicz’s physique, and mentioned that “lots of of political prisoners with severe well being issues” risked struggling the same destiny in Belarus.

“Family and attorneys needs to be instantly allowed to go to prisoners, the chance to cross on medicines to prisons needs to be reinstated,” Tsikhanouskaya mentioned in a Telegram put up, alleging that there was “no remedy” obtainable in Belarusian jails.

“Not yet one more particular person ought to die,” she added.

In line with Viasna, 1,498 political prisoners stay behind bars in Belarus, together with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski.

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