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Belarus Releases Prominent Rights Activist

FILE - Ales Belyatsky, head of the Vyasna human rights center, in Minsk, Belarus.
A prominent human rights activist in Belarus has been released from prison, 20 months before completing his sentence.

Ales Belyatsky was jailed in November 2011 on charges of tax evasion. No reason was given for his early release.

Belyatsky was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012 and received an array of international awards while imprisoned, including the U.S. State Department's 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award.

His group has provided legal assistance to thousands of Belarusians arrested or imprisoned for challenging President Alexander Lukashenko's undemocratic policies.

The European Union and the United States welcomed Belyatsky's release and urged Belarus to release other political prisoners as well.