Belarus opposition editor released

The editor of the Belarusian opposition website Charter 97, Natalya Radina, has been freed from a pre-trial detention centre, the website said on Saturday.

Radina was detained on December 19 in the aftermath of protests against elections which returned President Alexander Lukashenko to power for a fourth term. International monitors described the polls, which the opposition says were rigged, as flawed.

Radina was among tens of opposition activists held in custody after the police clampdown on the protest. She was charged with organizing and taking part in the demonstrations, and could face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed concern about what it called an "unprecedented wave of violence, intimidation, the arrest and persecution of political rivals, human rights activists, journalists and ordinary citizens in the wake of the elections".

Radina will now have to remain in the Brest region, where she is officially registered as residing.

The European Parliament adopted a resolution last week calling for immediate sanctions against the Belarusian leadership over the polls and the clampdown. The foreign ministers of the EU's 27 states are expected to reach a final decision on the issue when they hold their first meeting of the year on January 31 in Brussels.

Under the resolution, senior government officials and members of the judiciary and security agencies responsible for rigging the elections and persecuting the opposition would face a ban on visas and a freeze on bank accounts held on EU territory.

MINSK, January 29 (RIA Novosti)


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