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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Jailed Belarus Opposition Activist Asks for Pardon

RIA Novosti

22:00 25/01/2012 MOSCOW, January 25 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov, who was convicted of inciting riots after last year’s presidential elections, has asked President Alexander Lukashenko for a pardon, Belarus BelaPan reported on Wednesday.

Sannikov was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of inciting anti-Lukashenko riots following the 2010 presidential elections which the opposition claims were rigged by massive vote fraud in favor of Lukashenko.

Sannikov’s wife, Irina Khalip, a journalist for the Belarusian Novaya Gazeta paper, confirmed on Wednesday that Sannikov had written a petition for a pardon that, however, is dated November 20.

Khalip, who was repeatedly denied meetings with her husband over the last three months, said that Sannikov was tortured into writing the request.

“After three months of total isolation, I managed to see my husband,” Khalip said at a press conference. “When I saw Andrei yesterday, I was shocked at how exhausted he looked…he looked as if he survived several Stalin camps over the last three months.”

Khalip also said that Belarusian authorities had not announced Sannikov’s plea because Lukashenko was waiting for a proper moment to profit from it.

Belarus political expert Valery Karbalevich told BelaPan that Lukashenko should have known about the appeal. “He [Lukashenko] thoroughly monitors issues connected with political prisoners by personally controlling the fight with political opponents.”

“Probably, Lukashenko was not satisfied with the text that Sannikov has written. Maybe he wanted to see regret, admittance of his guilt, and some promises,” BelaPan quoted Karbalevich as saying.

In late December during a press-conference in Minsk, Lukashenko said that none of the jailed opposition activists had asked him for a pardon.

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