Support The Moscow Times!

Belarus, Eyeing EU, to Free Prisoners

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko will free all political activists from jail by early October as part of a drive to mend ties with the European Union, according to a letter written by Bulgaria's foreign minister.

Lukashenko said Thursday that he was pardoning four people jailed for their involvement in protests in December against his rule.

Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov had earlier met Lukashenko in Minsk and outlined a series of proposals made by the president in a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and foreign ministers of the 27-nation bloc.

According to a copy of the letter, Lukashenko agreed to release at least four prisoners by the end of last week and drop charges against another two. All remaining political activists would be released by the start of October.

Belarussian authorities detained more than 700 people after a huge rally in Minsk protesting Lukashenko's re-election, and about 50 are believed to be still in jail. The Free Belarus Now web site says they include three of the presidential candidates — Andrei Sannikov, Nikolai Statkevich, and Dmitry Uss — who were given sentences of five to six years.

EU foreign ministers, meanwhile, discussed the situation in Belarus at a meeting in Sopot, Poland, on Saturday.

"In Belarus, we have of course taken notice of some of the developments and of some of the statements that have been made," Ashton said, according to comments carried by Radio Free Europe.

(Reuters, MT)

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more