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Jailed Belarus Opposition Leader Reported in Poor Health


A former prison cellmate of Belarus opposition leader Alexander Kozulin says Kozulin's health has seriously worsened since he began a hunger strike one month ago.

Opposition politician Sergei Skrebets on Thursday described Kozulin as being a bag of bones after losing 17 kilograms. Authorities released Skrebets from prison on Wednesday after he served seven months of a 30 month sentence.

Skrebets joined Kozulin in refusing food. He said prison doctors try to force feed hunger strikers and he compared their activities to fascist concentration camps. He called on the United Nations Security Council to take action on Belarus.

A court in Minsk sentenced Skrebets to 30 months in prison in February for what it called economic crimes. Opposition supporters called the charges political.

Kozulin received a 5.5-year prison term in July for organizing mass protests against the March re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko by a landslide.

The United States and European Union called the election a fraud and imposed sanctions against Mr. Lukashenko and other senior Belarusian officials. President Bush has called Mr. Lukashenko Europe's last dictator because of his suppression of human rights and free speech.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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