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Belarusian Opposition Candidate Applies For Asylum In Czech Republic


Former presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich has applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.
A former Belarusian presidential candidate who fled the country this week after claiming he was tortured in jail has applied for asylum in the Czech Republic.

A spokesman for the Czech Foreign Ministry, Vit Kolar, confirmed that Ales Mikhalevich was in the Czech Republic awaiting the result of his asylum request.

"At the moment he is waiting in a center for asylum seekers for the result of his asylum request," Kolar said.

Vladimir Repka, a spokesman for the Czech Interior Ministry, said that process could take three months or longer.

Mikhalevich on March 14 wrote on his blog that he had left Belarus in defiance of an order barring him from leaving town.

He and several other opposition presidential candidates, along with hundreds of their supporters, were arrested in December while protesting the results of the presidential election, which they say was rigged to secure incumbent Alyaksandr Lukashenka's victory.

Last month, Mikhalevich compared the KGB pretrial detention center where he was held for two months to a concentration camp.

He also said he had to sign an agreement on collaborating with the KGB in order to secure his release from the detention center on February 19.

Two other former presidential candidates -- Andrey Sannikau and Mikalay Statkevich -- remain in custody. A third, Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, is under house arrest. All have been charged with organizing mass disturbances.

Meanwhile, the EU's foreign-policy chief, Catherine Ashton, in a declaration today condemned "the continued detention, trials, and sentencing on political grounds" in Belarus.

She also called for Belarus to reverse its decision not to renew the mandate of the office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Minsk.

Read more in Belarusian here