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Belarusian Opposition Leader, Activist Fined

MINSK -- A Belarusian court has fined an opposition party leader and an activist for holding unsanctioned rallies.

The court in Minsk on November 20 fined the leader of the opposition United Civic Party, Anatol Lyabedzka, $500 for organizing an unauthorized rally in front of the KGB building in the capital on October 29.

Lyabedzka pleaded not guilty and said the goal of the gathering was to commemorate victims of the Stalinist purges.

The Minsk court also fined opposition activist Vyachaslau Siuchyk $600 for taking part in a separate unsanctioned protest against alleged plans to set up a Russian military base in Belarus.

President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been running Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.

Earlier this month, he was inaugurated for the fifth time following an election that was judged by Western monitors to be neither free nor fair.

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