Belarus autorities disbar lawyer representing Kalesnikava, Babaryka

On Thursday, the Belarusian Justice Ministry has stripped Alyaksandr Pylchanka, a defense lawyer of might-have been presidential candidate Viktar Babaryka and opposition activist Maryia Kalesnikava, of his license.

The same measure was taken against his colleague Yuliya Levanchuk involved in the much-talked-about case of Minsk businessman Maksim Kharoshyn; a few days ago, the latter was severely beaten by siloviki. The ministry says they have claims to the two lawyers’ activity.

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In particular, the ministry is displeased with the comment on the the powers of the Prosecutor General’s Office that Alyaksandr Pylchanka made for Belarusian news portal According to the attorney, the office should have initiated criminal proceedings over the facts of battering peaceful citizens and inhuman treatment of detainees. Moreover, the lawyer believes that Prosecutor General shall be obliged to dismiss the Interior Minister, his deputies, and the head of the detention centre.

The reason for the termination of Yuliya Levanchuk’s license was the contents of her personal correspondence.

“Until the case starts to be considered in court, I would not like to share the details. After all, they will be the subject of legal proceedings in the future,” she said.

On June 18, presidential hopeful Viktar Babaryka and his son Eduard (head of his campaign office) were arrested and taken to the KGB prison; their house and flat were searched. According to the Belarusian authrities, when being Head of Belgazprombank, Viktar Babaryka received rewards totalling to 28 mln rubles from representatives of for-profit businesses; then he distributed the funds among the top managers of the bank. The former banker was charged under Art. 430-3 of the Criminal Code (passive bribery).

Maryia Kalesnikava, a member of the board of the opposition Coordination Council (CC), was kidnapped near the National Art Museum in Minsk on September, 7. Now she is being held in Zhodzina prison. Kalesnikava was charged under Art. 361-3 of the Criminal Code (‘calling for actions aimed at harming the national security with the use of mass media and the Internet’). She may face up to five years in jail.

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