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Belarus opposition leader released from prison

[JURIST] Belarus [JURIST news archive] opposition politician and former foreign economic relations minister Mikhail Marinich [Wikipedia profile] was released from prison Friday, after having served nearly two years of a two and a half year sentence. Arrested in April 2004 and convicted of theft of equipment the US government provided to his NGO "Business Initiative," Marinich's case has been widely criticized as fabricated [US DOS summary]. A court approved an early release for Marinich because a stroke in prison rendered him an invalid.

The same court that freed Marinich rejected a request to free another opposition politician, Alexander Kozulin [CFR profile and interview], who led protests [JURIST report] last month over the controversial re-election [JURIST report] of President Alexander Lukashenko [official website; BBC profile]. The European Union on Monday approved travel bans [PDF press release; JURIST report] on Lukashenko and 30 other top government officials in response to the government's crackdown on political protestors [JURIST report]. The government has charged more than 600 election protesters [JURIST report]. AP has more.

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