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Belarus Opposition Leader Kozulin Given 5 1/2-Year Term


A Belarusian court has sentenced former opposition presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin, to 5 1/2 years in prison.

The judge cleared the courtroom before delivering the verdict after the accused called the proceedings unfair and a farce.

Authorities had charged Kozulin with hooliganism and incitement to disorder in connection with mass protests by opposition activists over what they considered fraud in the vote.

Belarus authorities arrested Kozulin a week after the March 19 vote in which authorities say President Alexander Lukashenko won a landslide victory.

Demonstrators said the election was fraudulent.

Prosecutors say more than 500 people were detained during the protests, but opposition activists put the number at more than one thousand.

The United States and the European Union denounced the arrests, and enacted a visa ban on President Lukashenko and other top Belarus officials to protest the fraud.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

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