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Complaint Withdrawn In Belarusian-Language Protest Case

The Astrouski family
HRODNA, Belarus -- Police in the western Belarusian city of Hrodna have withdrawn their complaint about a family that protested in an effort to secure Belarusian-language teachers for their children, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Ales and Aksana Astrouski were accused of holding an unsanctioned public action on September 3, when the couple, their three children, and independent journalist Uladzimir Khilmanovich picketed the Hrodna Mayor's Office to demand classes in Belarusian for their children.

The local authorities agreed to provide the Astrouskis' eldest daughter, first-grader Svyatlana, with Belarusian-speaking teachers starting October 1. But the couple and Khilmanovich were still accused of staging an unsanctioned public protest.

Hrodna Lenin district court judge Natalya Kozel, who opened the hearings into the case today, announced that the city police have retracted the complaint and the case has been closed.

No further details were given. Journalists were barred from the courtroom.