Belarusian Presidential Candidate's Campaign Manager Released

MINSK/MAHILEU -- The campaign manager for a Belarusian opposition presidential candidate has been released from jail, RFE/RL's Belarus Service reports. Uladzimer Kobets headed Andrey Sannikau's campaign in the December 19 presidential election. Kobets was one of hundreds of opposition activists, including several presidential candidates and their supporters, arrested for taking part in the mass rally on Minsk's Independence Square on December 19-20 to protest official election results that reelected incumbent President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. He was charged with organizing and participation in an unsanctioned public action. Kobets told RFE/RL that his release from the Committee for State Security (KGB) detention center in Minsk on January 26 was a surprise. He said he hopes it is a sign that other jailed opposition activists and their supporters will also be freed in the near future. Kobets spent 36 days in custody. He has been asked not to leave Minsk as he is still considered a suspect and the investigation is continuing. Meanwhile, police detained Syarhey Nyahatsin, an activist of the opposition Belarusian Popular Front Party, in the eastern city of Mahileu today. Nyahatsin told RFE/RL by phone he was detained near his apartment block and taken to Mahileu's Lenin district police station. Police told him that he may be charged with participation in an illegal mass gathering on January 16. Nyahatsin said he was officially questioned by police and asked to stay in the city until a hearing on his case is scheduled. He added that he may be sent to jail. Nyahtasin is the fourth activist charged over the January 16 rally, when dozens of activists gathered in Mahileu's city center to express solidarity with the jailed political activists in Minsk.


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