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Kyrgyz Protesters Demand Belarus Free Prominent Activist

Ales Byalyatski

Ales Byalyatski

BISHKEK -- Dozens of Kyrgyz activists have picketed the Belarusian Embassy in Bishkek to demand the release of a prominent Belarusian rights activist jailed in Minsk last month, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Ales Byalyatski, the head of the Vyasna (Spring) human rights organization, was arrested on August 4 and later charged with tax evasion in a case that drew international condemnation.

The protest in the Kyrgyz capital was organized by Bishkek-based human rights organizations Citizens against Corruption and The Voice of Liberty.

RFE/RL's correspondent reported that the picketers held placards saying "Liberty for Ales!" A representative of the Belarusian Embassy came out to meet the protesters and took their written demands.

Byalyatski's 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.

His arrest also caused embarrassment to European Union members Lithuania and Poland, when it emerged both had helped the case against Byalyatski by giving financial information on him to the Belarusian authorities.

Read more in Kyrgyz here