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Supporters of Imprisoned Belarus Opposition Activists Seek Support from G-8

Friends and family members of imprisoned opposition activists in Belarus have sent an open letter to G-8 leaders, calling on them to press for the release of the activists.

They also appealed to G-8 member countries to press Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his support for Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Mr. Lukashenko was elected to a third term in March in an election Western governments call fraudulent.

The open letter comes ahead of a summit in St. Petersburg of the world's seven leading industrialized democracies plus Russia. It also comes on the heels of the start of a trial of former opposition presidential candidate Alexander Kozulin.

Kozulin faces up to six years in prison if convicted on charges of hooliganism and incitement to mass disorder. The charges are tied to the protests that followed the election. Authorities declared the vote an overwhelming victory for President Lukashenko.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.