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Tensions Between Minsk And Kyiv Over Jailed Ukrainians

Minsk, 3 May 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The Belarus Foreign Ministry said that it does not have a "special attitude" towards Ukraine in regard to Minsk's decision to continue to detain five Ukrainians arrested during a demonstration last week, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ruslan Yesin made the comment yesterday in response to a comment by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk that Belarusian authorities have refused to release five Ukrainians arrested during a demonstration in Minsk on 26 April because Belarusian officials have a "special attitude" toward Ukraine.

"The Republic of Belarus has always rejected the language of pressure, including media pressure," Yesin said. "We hope the Ukrainian side will not copy pseudo-democratic methods and forms of building interstate relations imposed by certain countries and international organizations."

Ukrainian media commentators suggested that Minsk granted an early release to 14 Russians detained during the same demonstration while leaving the Ukrainians in jail because of its prejudice against Kyiv, which backed a recent UN resolution condemning Belarus's human rights record (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2005).

Meanwhile, a Minsk court that was reportedly scheduled to review the Ukrainians' jail sentences on 2 May postponed its hearing to 3 May.