Belarusian-American Political Strategist Shkliarov Transferred To House Arrest

MINSK — Jailed Belarusian-American political strategist Vitali Shkliarov has been transferred from a Minsk detention center to house arrest.

Belarusian political analyst Yury Vaskrasenski and Shkliarov’s lawyer Anton Hashynski confirmed the move on October 19.

Shkliarov’s detention by Belarusian security agents in late July has angered U.S. government officials, who have called his jailing “unjust.”

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

He has said he was visiting his parents on the trip, but law enforcement officials have asserted he was trying to assist blogger Syarhey Tsikhanouski register as a candidate in the election. Tsikhanouski himself was detained prior to the election; his wife Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya then stood in his place and has since become a leading Belarusian opposition activist.

The official results of the election that handed victory to incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka, who has been in power since 1994, have sparked mass protests and have been contested by Tsikhanouskaya, whose supporters and opposition figures claim she won the vote.

The European Union and the United States have refused to recognize Lukashenka as the legitimate president of Belarus, criticizing the election as fraudulent.

Shkliarov was among several other individuals jailed before the election, with whom Lukashenka met on October 10.

In recent days, several opposition activists, with whom Lukashenka met, have either been transferred to house arrest or released and ordered not to leave Minsk.

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