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Belarusian Opposition Leader Statkevich Released From Jail

Belarusian opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich
Belarusian opposition leader Mikalay Statkevich

MINSK -- Belarusian opposition leader and former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich has been released from jail after serving a five-day term following a court ruling that he took part in an unsanctioned rally.

Statkevich told journalists after his release late on November 5 that police warned him of unspecified consequences if he continues "violating the law on public gatherings."

He described the warning as "political pressure" and vowed to continue his political and public activities.

Statkevich's wife, Maryna Adamovich, told RFE/RL on November 3 that she received a court ruling by mail saying that her husband must serve another 10-day prison term for organizing a separate unsanctioned public gathering in October.

It is not clear when or whether Statkevich will serve that term.

Statkevich has been detained several times since January, and has spent about 35 days in jail in the last 10 months.

Statkevich ran against authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the 2010 presidential election.

Lukashenka, in office since 1994, was reelected in the vote, which his critics say was rigged.

Statkevich was arrested after attending a large demonstration protesting the election results, and spent five years in prison after being convicted of organizing riots at a trial criticized by human rights groups and Western governments.

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