Clear
100.2 ° F
Full Weather
Sponsored By:

Belarus rights group says 10 ill political prisoners have been freed

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — A Belarusian human rights group said Thursday that at least 10 political prisoners have been freed since the country’s authoritarian president this week promised to release seriously ill people jailed in connection with massive protests nearly four years ago.

Pavel Sapelko of the Viasna rights group told The Associated Press that none of those released are well-known figures whose release has been sought by the West.

Viasna counts more than 1,400 political prisoners in the country, including Viasna’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning founder Ales Bialiatski.

Ryhor Kastusiou, a cancer-stricken opposition leader who had run against President Alexander Lukashenko in elections in 2010, was released on Wednesday, Sapelko said, but he declined to give the names of others who were let out.

“We expected a large-scale amnesty with hundreds of people released, but we are seeing only isolated cases,” Sapelko said. “The repressions in the country continue and in these days, in place of the ten released, the authorities have imprisoned twenty new arrestees.”

Lukashenko has consistently suppressed opposition and independent news media since becoming president in 1994, but the measures became more intensive as protests gripped the country after the 2020 presidential election whose disputed results gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office.

The crackdown forced many opposition figures to flee into exile, including Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya who ran against Lukashenko in 2020.

Feedback