Latvian citizen reportedly on trial in Belarus

Only limited and delayed information about the progress of a criminal process in Belarus against Latvian citizen Alla Sokoļenko has been received from the Belarusian authorities, stated the press secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MA) Diāna Eglīte September 29.

The "FreeBelarus" organization stated on Twitter/X that on Friday, September 29, the trial against Latvian citizen Sokoļenko would begin in Minsk. She faces three to seven years in prison, allegedly for spying for Latvia. 

Last year, the Latvian State Police (VP) declared Sokoļenko and another woman, Diāna Bahmuta as missing persons. Later it turned out that Bahmuta had managed to return to Latvia.

Eglīte noted that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has followed and tried to provide assistance to Sokoļenko since her detention in Belarus last year. The Belarusian side has significantly hindered the communication of the Latvian consulate in Vitebsk with the Latvian citizen.

Despite regular requests for information about the case from both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Latvian Consulate in Vitebsk, only a very limited amount about the progress of the criminal process has been received from the Belarusian authorities.

Neither the Latvian Consulate in Vitebsk nor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had received information about the planned court session.

In order to follow the legal proceedings against the citizen of Latvia in person, the consulate in Vitebsk has submitted a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belarus to provide a representative of the consulate with the opportunity to participate in court hearings.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly warned citizens not to go to Belarus, as provocations may be directed against Latvian nationals, and Latvia's opportunities to provide assistance in the current conditions in Belarus are very limited.

In 2022, police asked for the public's help in finding two missing women who were seen on March 27, 2022 in the Belarusian city of Gomel, where they were supposed to board a train.

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