Thu, 22 Oct 2020

A court in Minsk has extended the pretrial detention of Belarusian-American political strategist Vitali Shkliarov for a second two-month period despite signs he had the coronavirus while incarcerated.

Anton Hashynski, Shkliarov's lawyer, said on September 29 that a COVID-19 test revealed that his client has antibodies for the virus.

'Most likely he recovered himself from COVID-19 two weeks ago when he complained of a high fever. Since he and his cellmates have not been isolated, they now are getting infected one by one,' Hashynski said.

Shkliarov's detention by Belarusian security agents in late July has spurred increasingly urgent warnings from U.S. government officials who have called his jailing 'unjust.'

Shkliarov, who has worked on political campaigns for Barack Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders in the United States, and for Russian socialite Ksenia Sobchak, was arrested in his native city of Homel in southeastern Belarus on July 29, 10 days before the presidential election.

He has said he was visiting his parents in Homel.

But law enforcement officials have asserted he was trying to assist blogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski to register as a candidate in the election.

Tsikhanouski was detained himself prior to the election; his wife Svyatlana then ran for president in his place and has since become a leading opposition activist.

Shkliarov's wife, U.S. diplomat Heather Shkliarov, said in mid-September that her husband's health was in 'extreme danger.'

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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