HC Deb 02 July 2002 vol 388 c274W
Mr. Spring

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he will make to the Belarusian Government concerning the convictions of Mikola Markevich and Pavel Mazheiko for libelling the President; what further action he has planned to ensure that human rights are respected in this case; what action the European Union will be taking; and if he will make a statement. [65386]

Mr. Mike O'Brien

The court decision to sentence Nikolai Markevich and Pavel Mozheiko to "restricted freedom" for defaming President Lukashenko is the latest example of the disregard for international standards of human rights in Belarus. Our ambassador at Minsk has already made clear our concerns about the case during informal discussions with the authorities there.

Representatives from our embassy in Minsk have, together with other like-minded partners (including from the EU, US & OSCE missions) regularly attended the trial. Both defendants have expressed their gratitude for this support, and made it clear that they believed it played a significant part in their not being sentenced to full custodial terms. Both of those concerned are expected to lodge an appeal in the next few days.

Our embassy in Minsk will continue to monitor the case closely, and we shall continue to consult with our EU and other partners.

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