On 16 December, the Belarussian journalist Viktar Ivashkevich left Minsk for a detention camp in Baranovichy, 140 kilometres south-west of the Belarussian capital, where he will serve a two-year term of internal exile for an article deemed to libel President Lukashenko. Viktar Ivashkevich is the editor of Rabochy (Worker), a trade union newspaper based in Minsk. In June 2002, he was charged under Articles 367 (2) and 368 of the criminal code for slander of the Belarussian president for an article entitled "This thief belongs in jail", which criticised corruption within the higher levels of the Belarus government. English PEN is alarmed by the emerging pattern of sending into internal exile those who dare to criticise the authorities. It considers Viktar Ivashkevich to be held in violation of his right to freedom of expression and calls for his immediate and unconditional release.
Appeals to be sent to:
President Alyaksandr Lukashenko
Administracia Presidenta Respubliki Belarus
vul. Karla Marksa 38
Fax: 00 375 17 223 5825/00 375 17 226 06 10 E-mail: email@example.com.
by Prosecutor General Viktar Sheiman
Heneralnaja Prakuratura Respubliki Belarus
220050 Minsk, GSP
vul. Internacianalnaja 22
Fax: 00 375 17 226 4167
Rob Shepherd is a television producer and member of English PEN's Writers in Prison Committee