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Pardoned Election Activists Taste Freedom

Four activists jailed in connection with Belarus's contentious presidential election in December 2010 were freed overnight on September 1-2 after surprise pardons from President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. RFE/RL's Belarus Service met up with all four -- Aleh Hnedchyk, Dzmitry Daronin, Ales Kirkevich, and Andrey Protasenya -- as they returned home after their release. (All photos by RFE/RL's Belarus Service)

Aleh Hnedchyk had been sentenced to four years in a high-security prison.
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Aleh Hnedchyk had been sentenced to four years in a high-security prison.

Hnedchyk told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that he had refused to acknowledge any guilt and remained uncertain why he was pardoned.
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Hnedchyk told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that he had refused to acknowledge any guilt and remained uncertain why he was pardoned.

Hnedchyk expressed hope that all remaining political prisoners would be released within three weeks.
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Hnedchyk expressed hope that all remaining political prisoners would be released within three weeks.

Dzmitry Daronin is a Minsk native who was arrested in March.
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Dzmitry Daronin is a Minsk native who was arrested in March.

Ales Kirkevich (center) is deputy chairman of the Young Front opposition group.
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Ales Kirkevich (center) is deputy chairman of the Young Front opposition group.

Kirkevich's wife met him at the train station in Minsk. His postelection imprisonment cut short their honeymoon.
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Kirkevich's wife met him at the train station in Minsk. His postelection imprisonment cut short their honeymoon.

Kirkevich and the other freed activists were met by friends and well-wishers after months spent in jail.
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Kirkevich and the other freed activists were met by friends and well-wishers after months spent in jail.

Andrey Protasenya, a campaigner for opposition presidential candidate Yaroslav Romanchuk in Belarus's December 2010 vote, was all smiles as he arrived in Minsk.
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Andrey Protasenya, a campaigner for opposition presidential candidate Yaroslav Romanchuk in Belarus's December 2010 vote, was all smiles as he arrived in Minsk.

But Protasenya stressed that while he was out, "I can't say there's a feeling of intense happiness." He was thinking about the nearly 20 other activists still in jail on charges related to the election.
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But Protasenya stressed that while he was out, "I can't say there's a feeling of intense happiness." He was thinking about the nearly 20 other activists still in jail on charges related to the election.

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