EU Calls on Belarus to Free Political Prisoners

BRUSSELS (EUX.TV) -- The European Commission on Monday said it hopes more political prisoners will be released in Belarus after former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin was given a presidential pardon.

Kazulin was released from prison on Saturday to attend the funeral of his father-in-law, and subsequently was told he was released permanently. According to the Belarus news agency Belapan, Kazulin has been given a pardon by Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenko.

"This is a positive step, long expected by the European Union," said Benita Ferrero Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations, in a statement.

"Alyaksandr Kazulin's imprisonment was in direct breach of Belarus' international human rights obligations," she said. "I also expect the immediate release of the remaining political prisoners in Belarus. I very much hope that Mr Kazulin's release will help to create a positive momentum in EU-Belarussian relations."

Kazulin, described as 'a prisoner of conscience' by Amnesty International, was arrested in March 2006 and sentenced to a 5 1/2 years in prison on what Belapan said were 'politically motivated' charges.



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