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Belarusian Activist Released After Serving Five Years In Jail

Mikalay Autukhovich leaves prison in Hrodna on April 8.
HRODNA, Belarus -- Belarusian businessman and political activist Mikalay Autukhovich has been released after serving five years in jail.

Some 30 people, including Autukhovich's relatives, friends, and journalists, met him at the gates of the prison in the western city of Hrodna on April 8.

Autukhovich told journalists that he still considers his case politically motivated and called the Belarusian government criminal.

Autukhovich was arrested in 2009 and convicted in 2010 on charges of illegal possession of weapons and ammunition.

He was originally charged with preparing terrorist acts against officials in his native town of Vaukavysk. The charge was later dropped.

While in jail, Autukhovich has been repeatedly placed in solitary confinement for going on hunger strikes and other forms of protests against his sentence, including a suicide attempt.