During the weekend, two leading Belarusian oppositional activists were released from prison. Both had been detained and sentenced to prison in according with the “mass riots” criminal case after the presidential elections on December 19, 2010.
One of them is the prominent critic of dictator Aliaksandr Lukasenka – Andrei Sannikau (58), former deputy foreign minister and leader of the oppositional movement European Belarus. He was suddenly released on April 14 after serving about a year and a half of a five-year prison term. He was accused of organizing the “mass riots” during the election night.
On April 15, Dzmitry Bandarenka (49), aide to Andrei Sannikau was released. He was accused of participating in mass riots and sentenced to two years imprisonment.
It is worth noting, that both oppositional politicians made a request for pardon to president Lukashenka in the autumn of last year. Requests that have apparently finally have been approved.
The releases came three weeks after the EU agreed to freeze the assets of 29 Belarusian companies, block accounts and ban EU travel for additional 12 individuals, in the toughest Western sanctions yet against Minsk.
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