Germany`s Social Democrats attending to Statkevich`s fate, official says 15:00, 19/09/2005
Germany`s Social Democratic Party (SPD) is closely following the fate of Nikolai Statkevich, a Belarusian opposition figure sentenced to a two-year "restricted freedom" term in an internationally criticized case, a high-ranking SPD officer said in an interview with BelaPAN.
According to Frank Schauff, head of the German party`s international politics office, Mr. Statkevich, a prominent Social Democratic politician, met German Chancellor and SPD leader Gerhard Schroeder and other top members of the party while visiting Germany.
The official recalled that Mr. Schroeder had come out in support of the politician, sending an appropriate letter to the Belarusian government.
Mr. Schauff acknowledged that the situation in Belarus has received not enough attention in Europe over disagreements about the European Union (EU)`s Constitution and an ongoing election campaign in Germany.
However, he predicted, both Germany and the EU are likely to adopt a stiffer attitude to Mr. Lukashenko in the future.
Mr. Statkevich is currently serving his two-year "restricted freedom" term in an open-type prison in Baranovichi.
He and another opposition politician, Pavel Severinets, were sentenced to three years of "restricted freedom" this past May for staging a series of unauthorized demonstrations in central Minsk against the official results of last October`s parliamentary elections and national referendum, which are widely believed to have been rigged.
The sentences were reduced by one year under an amnesty law.