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Belarus Releases Detained Georgians And Pole

Opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich talks to protesters on Minsk's October Square, Mar. 21 (RFE/RL) March 22, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Three Georgians nationals have been released from police custody in Belarus and deported to neighboring Ukraine.

Dissident Orthodox priest Basil Kobakhidze, Baptist minister Malkhaz Songulashvili, and religious-freedom campaigner Lado Gogiashvili were detained March 20 after attending an unsanctioned opposition rally in Minsk.

Kobakhidze today gave a short telephone interview to Georgia's Imedi television from Kyiv.

Also, Poland's PAP news agency reports Belarusian police released lawmaker Jaroslaw Jagiello of the Truth and Justice ruling party.

Jagiello was also detained on the night of March 20 on charges of attending an opposition rally in Minsk. Jagiello spoke to RFE/RL Belarus Service about his detention.

"We were put in to the car by force,” he said. “All contacts were forbidden, they did not allow us to talk. They took away mobile phones. They did not allow us to contact with Polish Consul and with a translator who could have helped us because we did not understand everything."

Authorities have asked the Polish parliamentarian to leave Belarus.

(with additional material from Imedi TV, Civil Georgia, PAP, Belapan)

Minsk, Day Three

Minsk, Day Three

DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE: On March 21, the opposition protests in Minsk continued, although the crowds dwindled as authorities began arresting and intimidating some demonstrators. RFE/RL's Belarus Service is reporting continuously from October Square and filed these images.

Young and old alike were on hand for the rally on March 21 (RFE/RL)

Opposition leader Alyaksandr Milinkevich (right), who took 6 percent of the March 19 vote according to official figures, speaks to supporters (RFE/RL)

Demonstrators huddled in tents and drank tea to keep warm (RFE/RL)

Temperatures have been below freezing since the beginning of the protests with intermittent snowfall (RFE/RL)

As night fell, diehard protesters pledged to continue their vigil on the square, reiterating their calls for a new election (RFE/RL)

SEE FOR YOURSELF: View a short video clip taken on October Square on the morning of March 21:
Real Audio Windows Media

THE COMPLETE PICTURE: Click on the image to view a dedicated page with news, analysis, and background information about the Belarusian presidential ballot.

COVERAGE IN BELARUSIAN: Click on the image to view RFE/RL's coverage of the election campaign in Belarusian and to listen to RFE/RL's Belarusian Service.

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