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Germany, Central Europe Demand Belarus Free Prisoners


Participants at a summit of leaders of the Visegrad Group in Bratislava

Participants at a summit of leaders of the Visegrad Group in Bratislava

German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined Austria and the four members of the Visegrad Group of countries -- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia -- in denouncing the government of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka for rights abuses.

Slovak Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, quoting from a declaration approved at the summit, said "We extend our resolute call on the authorities in Belarus to immediately release all political prisoners and to rehabilitate them."

Ukraine's Prime Minister Mykola Azarov also attended the summit but did not sign the document.

European Union reinstated a visa ban on Lukashenka and other officials last month in response to a violent crackdown on protest after a disputed December election.

compiled from agency reports
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