Jailed political consultant allowed to leave Belarus after U.S. State Secretary asks Lukashenko to release him
Well-known political consultant Vitaly Shklyarov, who was jailed in Belarus following his arrest there on July 29, has left the country, reports the Belarusian news outlet Tut.by.
Citing Shklyarov’s lawyer Anton Gashinsky, RIA Novosti reports that the political consultant was allowed to leave Belarus temporarily to rejoin his family and “to regain his health after suffering from the coronavirus.” The investigation against Shklyarov has yet to be concluded, the lawyer said, adding that his client will return ot Belarus “in the near future.”
On October 24, Alexander Lukashenko discussed Shklyarov’s case during a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. According to the U.S. State Department, Pompeo demanded the immediate release of “the unjustly detained American citizen Vitaly Sklyarov,” asking that he be allowed to leave Belarus all together.
Political consultant Vitaly Shklyarov is known for his previous campaign work for a range of high-profile politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former U.S. president Barack Obama, former U.S. presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Russian presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak.
Shklyarov was arrested in Belarus in July and accused of inciting riots. Belarusian law enforcement maintained that he was trying to mobilize the protest electorate around opposition blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky (Siarhei Tsikhanousky) — the husband of presidential candidate and opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya (Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya). Shklyarov, who was sent to a pre-trial detention center following his arrest, maintains that he isn’t guilty and has no connection to Tikhanovsky.
On October 10, Shklyarov was involved in a meeting between Alexander Lukashenko and a number of political prisoners. He was transferred from pre-trial detention to house arrest on October 19.