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Detained Opposition Politician Released In Belarus

Belarusian opposition leader Anatol Lyabedzka, who has been released from prison.
Belarusian opposition leader Anatol Lyabedzka, who has been released from prison.
MINSK -- A prominent Belarusian opposition figure has been released after spending three and a half months in jail, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports.

Anatol Lyabedzka, leader of the opposition United Civic Party (AHP), was released from a KGB pretrial detention center on April 6.

Lyabedzka, along with some 30 other activists, has been charged with organizing and/or participating in "mass disorders" in Minsk on December 19, during street protests against the official announcement of incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's reelection.

Lyabedzka was released on condition that he does not leave Minsk while the investigation against him is under way. His son, Artsyom Lyabedzka, told RFE/RL today that Lyabedzka's release was "an unexpected surprise" for his family. According to Artsyom, his father is in excellent physical and psychological shape.

Lyabedzka told a meeting of his party's national committee today that "those who arrested me tried to make me release some kind of statements, but I answered that I would rather bite off my own hand than stop believing in what I believe."

Lyabedzka was a formal representative of his party's presidential candidate Yaraslau Ramanchuk during the election campaign.

He was arrested late in the night of December 19 at his apartment in Minsk. On December 22, he started a hunger strike protesting his arrest, which he stopped several days later at the request of his wife.

Lyabedzka's lawyer was unable to meet his client between December 29 and March 23.

The Belarusian KGB earlier released several opposition politicians and activists, asking them not to leave their home towns while investigations continue.

They include former presidential candidates Vital Rymasheuski and Ales Mikhalevich, on-line news portal chief editor Natalya Radzina, Andrey Dzmitryeu, the campaign manager for opposition presidential candidate Uladzimer Nyaklyaeu, and "Tell the Truth!" campaign activist Syarhey Vaznyak.

Mikhalevich and Radzina fled the country to avoid trial.

Nyaklyaeu was released earlier this year and put under house arrest, as was journalist Iryna Khalip, the wife of opposition presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau.

Sannikau and another opposition candidate, Mikalay Statkevich, remain in jail.

Read more in Belarusian here