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Kyrgyz Protesters Demand Release Of Belarusian Activist

Ales Byalyatski in a Belarusian court in August 2009

Ales Byalyatski in a Belarusian court in August 2009

BISHKEK -- A dozen Kyrgyz activists have picketed the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek to demand the immediate release from a Minsk jail of human rights defender Ales Byalyatski, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Byalyatski, the chairman of the Vyasna (Spring) human rights organization, was arrested on August 4 and later charged with tax evasion.

His colleagues and supporters say the case against him is politically motivated.

Byalyatski had been circulating via online social networks reports on the Belarusian authorities' crackdown on peaceful protests.

The protest action in Bishkek was organized by the Bishkek-based NGO Citizens against Corruption, which is led by Tolekan Ismailova.

Ismailova told RFE/RL that Byalyatski visited Kyrgyzstan twice and contributed to the democratic changes that have taken place there. She said the purpose of the demonstration is to show her NGO's solidarity with and support for Byalyatski.

Read more in Kyrgyz here