French ambassador describes opposition youth Dubski’s imprisonment as “unpleasant surprise”


French Ambassador Mireille Musso on Thursday described the imprisonment of young opposition activist Artsyom Dubski as an “unpleasant surprise.”

“The sentence was handed down just days ago, I cannot give a full-scale assessment of this so far, but this was an unpleasant surprise for all of us,” the diplomat said at a news conference in Minsk.

On July 7, Mr. Dubski, a 22-year-old member of an opposition youth group called Malady Front, was sentenced to one year in a minimum security correctional institution on a charge of avoiding serving a “restricted freedom” sentence.

Mr. Musso stressed that the youth’s imprisonment “runs counter to the steps that Belarus has already taken and to the possibility of more steps [toward democratization] that have been promised.”

Noting that the sentence was given “on legal grounds, in accordance with the Criminal Code currently in force,” the French ambassador called on the Belarusian government to consider introducing softer regulations and making the Criminal Code “more respectful of fundamental freedoms.” “The Belarusian authorities are aware of the need to change criminal regulations, they have said this themselves. This is important to Belarus and is in its interest,” she said.

Ms. Musso described Belarus’ Criminal Code as “outdated” and not fitting European standards.

The European Union also is following criminal proceedings against Vawkavysk dissident Mikalay Awtukhovich, who has been on hunger strike since April 16 to protest his detention, according to the diplomat. “We hope that a way out of the situation will be found,” she said. //BelaPAN