Thursday, 18 August 2005

Jailed Belarusian Oppositionist Has Sentence Reduced

Minsk, 18 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Belarusian authorities have reduced the jail sentence of a prominent opposition leader.

Mikhail Marynich was jailed for 3 and 1/2 years in December on charges of stealing office equipment given to his research institute by the U.S. Embassy.

His son, Igor Marynich, said today that the Interior Ministry has reduced the sentence by a year under an amnesty marking this year's 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Marynich, 65, tried unsuccessfully to run against Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 2001 in a poll dismissed by many as deeply flawed. His detention was ordered last year by the state security service.

The U.S. Embassy has said it has no objections to Marynich's actions concerning the equipment. Western countries have described the case against him as politically motivated.