Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Sannikaw meets with lawyer after more than two months incommunicado

Lawyer Maryna Kavalewskaya on January 20 met with imprisoned former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw, who had not seen his lawyers or relatives since early November.

"Andrey has already been released from a 'cell-type room' and joined a regular unit of inmates, probably because a decision was made to let him see his lawyer", Mr. Sannikaw's wife, Iryna Khalip, told BelaPAN. "Andrey says he is fine and has no complaints about anything".

Ms. Khalip suggested that her husband had made no complaints because he did not want the prison administration to cancel a brief meeting with her and his mother scheduled for January 24.

On May 14, 2011, a district judge in Minsk sentenced Mr. Sannikaw, currently 57, to five years in prison, finding him guilty of "organizing mass disorder" in connection with a post-election protest staged in the Belarusian capital city on the night of December 19, 2010.

Mr. Sannikaw, a former deputy foreign minister, was severely beaten during riot police's violent crackdown on the crowd in front of the House of Government and was arrested shortly afterward.

On July 15, a three-judge panel of the Minsk City Court upheld his prison sentence.

On September 20, Mr. Sannikaw was transferred from a prison in Navapolatsk to Correctional Institution No. 2 in Babruysk. He was removed from the prison in mid-November, held for a few days in Correctional Institution No. 4 in Mahilyow and then brought to the Vitsba 3 correctional institution near Vitsyebsk.

The administration of the Vitsba 3 prison held Mr. Sannikaw incommunicado for more than two months, using various pretexts to deny the inmate his constitutional right to receive legal aid. It claimed that Mr. Sannikaw did not need any legal counsel, and that he feared for his life and health and should therefore be kept from outsiders.