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Skoda Says Supports Sports Interests, Not Belarus Regime

Belarusians protest outside the Skoda offices in downtown Prague.
Belarusians protest outside the Skoda offices in downtown Prague.
Officials at Skoda, the Czech Republic-based automaker, say that by supporting international sporting events, their company "supports sports interests, not a concrete state or national organization."

The statement by a Skoda spokesman was e-mailed to RFE/RL after the company was questioned about its intention to sponsor the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus, whose regime is regularly cited by rights groups and Western countries for being responsible for a range of human rights abuses.

Thirteen activists, including former Belarusian presidential candidate Ales Mikhalevich, on February 16 picketed Skoda's headquarters in Prague, protesting the firm's planned sponsorship of the hockey tournament in Minsk.

The protesters held up portraits of jailed political activists in Belarus and signs saying "Stop supporting dictatorship in Belarus!"
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