Jailed Belarus opposition leader visited by OSCE official

MINSK, 31 October 2006 - Ambassador Ake Peterson, the Head of the OSCE Office in Minsk, visited today Alexander Kozulin, a prominent political figure and candidate in last March's presidential election, who was jailed this summer and has been on hunger strike since 20 October.

In July, Dr Kozulin was found guilty of repeated acts of "hooliganism" and of "organizing and participating in group activities that gravely violated public order" and was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.

Ambassador Peterson said that Kozulin appeared to be in good mental spirits although visibly seemed physically weakened. "We assume that Mr Kozulin is under medical control and would be given medical assistance if needed," he added.

Mr Kozulin made it clear to Ambassador Peterson that he viewed the hunger strike as part of his political opposition.