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Breathing protest denied in Belarus

Nov. 30, 2011 at 11:46 AM

BARANAVICHY, Belarus, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- Authorities in Belarus denied a permit to a man who wanted to stage a 2-hour protest he said he'd wage by breathing deeply.

Belarus was criticized for its sweeping crackdown on dissent. Authorities in the past prohibited a protest that was to include clapping demonstrators and a recent anti-government bike-ride protest.

Now, Mikola Charnavus from the central town of Baranavichy, was denied a permit for planning a breathing protest in front of a monument commemorating Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports.

Charnavus told RFE/RL he wanted to stage the deep-breathing protest because "protest actions involving bicycle riding, walking in a village, applauding, roaring or mooing are banned in this country."

A panel of independent experts in a report to the United Nations said Monday that new laws curtailing the right to peaceful protest could worsen the "current climate of fear and intimidation" in Belarus.

Hundreds of opponents to President Alexander Lukashenko were arrested following a crackdown that followed December elections in Belarus.

Meanwhile, RFE/RL notes a court Wednesday sentenced two men to death for an April bombing of a subway in Minsk that killed 15 and left 200 injured.

Belarus is the only European country that has a death penalty.

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