Belarussian President pardons 4 oppositionists

MINSK, September 1 (Itar-Tass) — President Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus has pardoned four oppositionist politicians who were sentenced to jail terms under a criminal case for mass riots in Minsk December 19, 2010.

Family members of the convicts told human rights groups the President had pardoned Alexei Kirkevich, Andrei Protasenya and Oleg Gnedchik. The name of the fourth individual was not known at the time of reporting.

“The President signed an appropriate decree after considering these citizens’ pleas for clemency,” a spokesman for the presidential press service said. “The four men said in their pleas they were repenting and they had recognized their guilt and the unlawful character of their actions /during the riots/.”

“They also confirmed their readiness to observe the Belarussian legislation strictly in the future,’ the spokesman said.

Belarussian courts sentenced 40 or so people to jail terms in connection with mass riots in Minsk December 19, 2010. Staying in jails at present are three former candidates for presidency – Andrei Sannikov, Nikolai Statkevich and Dmitry Ouss.

A short while ago, the authorities cancelled criminal cases of the former candidate for presidency, Grigory Kostusev, the chairman of the United Civic Party, Anatoly Lebedko, oppositionist newswoman Natalya Radina, public activist Oleg Korban, presidential campaign activist Ales Arestovich, and former election staff chief Vladimir Kobets.

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