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Belarus: Opposition Figure Given Six-Year Prison Term

Minsk, 17 March (RFE/RL) - A court in Minsk today sentenced a political opponent of President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to six years in prison on charges of fraud and misappropriating funds. Businessman Andrey Klimau was a member of the parliament disbanded by Lukashenka in 1996. He was arrested in 1998. At the time of his arrest, a fellow former lawmaker, Anatoly Lebedka, said government authorities had audited Klimau's company but had found no violations.

Western governments and international human rights organizations had called Klimau's arrest politically motivated.

Lukashenka has led a systematic crackdown on the political opposition and the independent media.