21 January 2018, Sunday, 17:19

Catherine Ashton expresses regret

The EU High Representative called on Minsk to release all political prisoners.

The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy welcomes the release of Syarhei Kavalenka, but regrets he had to apply to Lukashenka for a pardon, BelaPAN news agency learned from Ashton's spokesperson Maja Kocijancic.

Catherine Ashton hopes for further steps of the Belarusian authorities and urges Minsk to release all political prisoners and lift restrictions of their civil and political rights.

Kocijancic also said the EU Foreign Affairs Council would discuss the Belarusian issue at a meeting on October 15. The details of the discussion were being worked out, the spokesperson added.

Syarhei Kavalenka, a Vitebsk-based activist of Conservative Christian Party BPF, had been  in detention since December 2011 charged with violation of probation. He was given a suspended sentence in May 2010 for hanging out a national white-red-white flag on Vitebsk's Christmas Tree.  After his arrest, Kavalenka went on hunger strike, which lasted two months with short breaks. Kavalenka was sentenced to 13 months in a minimum security penal colony in February 2012.