Lukashenko Pardons Prisoners

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MINSK, Belarus, Aug. 12 (UPI) — The government in Belarus announced the country’s president issued a series of pardons for anti-government protesters arrested in December.

“(President) Alexander Lukashenko has pardoned from prison terms nine participants of mass disturbances on Independence Square on Dec. 19, 2010,” a presidential statement was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying.

Six of those who received pardons were former presidential candidates.

Nearly 400 people were arrested during Independence Day celebrations in Belarus in early July and hundreds of political opponents to President Alexander Lukashenko were detained following contentious December elections.

Washington responded again to the situation in Belarus by hitting state-owned enterprises on the country with new sanctions.

“These U.S. actions are not directed at the people of Belarus,” a statement from the U.S. State Department said. “An integral component of U.S. policy has been to increase support for the people of Belarus as they seek to build a modern, democratic and prosperous society.”

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