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Two Belarus Government Critics Jailed


Leader of the Young Front opposition group Dmitry Dashkevich (l) and opposition activist Eduard Lobov during a court hearing in Minsk, March 24 2011

Leader of the Young Front opposition group Dmitry Dashkevich (l) and opposition activist Eduard Lobov during a court hearing in Minsk, March 24 2011

A court in Belarus has sent two critics of President Alexander Lukashenko's government to jail, while a third has managed to win political asylum in the Czech Republic.

Dmitry Dashkevich and Eduard Lobov on Thursday were sentenced to two and four years in prison respectively. They had been arrested on the eve of popular demonstrations against Mr. Lukashenko's December 19 re-election.

The two were found guilty of assaulting others in acts of hooliganism. Both denied the allegations.

A third activist and former opposition presidential candidate, Ales Mikhalevich, was granted political asylum in the Czech Republic. He fled Belarus after his February 19 release from custody. Mikhalevich said he had been tortured by Belarusian secret police.

More than 700 people, including several presidential candidates, were arrested during the demonstrations against Mr. Lukashenko's election win. International observers and national activists say the vote count was rigged.

Roughly two dozen people are still awaiting trial.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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