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Freed Polish Diplomat Says He Was Beaten In Belarusian Prison

Mariusz Maszkiewicz in 1998 (file photo) (epa) April 7, 2006 -- A former Polish ambassador jailed in Belarus for protesting against the reelection of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been released.

Mariusz Maszkiewicz, who was hospitalized with heart problems soon after his arrest, says he was beaten in detention.

Maszkiewicz was arrested on March 24 and sentenced to 15 days in prison. He was one of hundreds of people detained for taking part in protests against Lukashenka's reelection in elections held on March 19. The Belarusian opposition and Western observers said the vote was fraudulent.

Poland openly backed Alyaksandr Milinkevich, the main opposition candidate against Lukashenka in the election.

Lukashenka said Poland joined other Western nations in stirring up unrest in Belarus.

(Reuters, AFP)

Belarus And Poland

Belarus And Poland

An anti-Lukashenka demonstration in Warsaw on February 22 (RFE/RL)

LOOKING OVER THE FENCE: In the 12 months leading up to today's presidential elections, Polish citizens have taken a strong interest in the fate of their neighbors, the Belarusians. Some say this is because the two countries are geographically linked and it is in Poland's best interest to be surrounded by democratic friends. Others say it is because of Poland's own strong history fighting against oppression. Regardless of the reason, one thing is indisputable: Poland is almost as invested in the results of the March 19 election as Belarus is....(more)

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

MEET THE CANDIDATES: Read brief biographies of the four candidates in the March 19 election.

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