Pavel Vinahradaw, leader of the "Tell the Truth!" movement’s youth wing called Zmena, served out his 10-day jail sentence on March 2 but was immediately rearrested and was expected to be held in custody pending his new trial on March 5.
Friends and relatives gathered near the detention center on Akrestsina Street in Minsk on Friday to meet the 23-year-old opposition activist as he was scheduled to leave the jail at around 6 p.m. The crowd waited for the young man for more than an hour before contacting the jail administration, which denied the presence of Mr. Vinahradaw on the territory of the detention center.
Hours later, a police officer phoned Mr. Vinahradaw’s wife, Svyatlana, to tell her that her husband had been arrested for a civil offense by officers of the Maskowski district police department and placed into the detention center again.
When reached by BelaPAN, Mrs. Vinahradaw suggested that the activist may have not been released from the detention center altogether.
Mr. Vinahradaw was sentenced to jail on February 22 over a protest in front of the Minsk City Executive Committee’s building that saw soft toys playing the role of demonstrators. Nine toys with miniature signs calling for press freedom and the release of the country’s political prisoners were displayed on a flower urn.
He is likely to be tried again over another protest staged by Zmena activists earlier this month.
Another Zmena activist, Alyaksandr Artsybashaw, who was jailed for 10 days in late February over the "toy" protest, was later handed down an additional seven-day jail sentence for organizing another unauthorized event in Minsk.
Mr. Vinahradaw was sentenced to four years in prison in May 2011 in connection with a post-election protest staged in the Belarusian capital city on December 19, 2010. He was among the 11 post-election protesters who were pardoned by Alyaksandr Lukashenka on September 14, 2011.
In May 2008, Mr. Vinahradaw was sentenced to a two-year "restricted freedom" term over a January 2008 demonstration against the government`s crackdown on small business owners. He was amnestied a year later.