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Government frees opposition writer Andrei Klimau

(RSF/IFEX) - Writer and opposition activist Andrei Klimau was released on 15 February 2008, well before completion of a two-year sentence, in what appears to be a government gesture aimed at improving relations with the European Union.

"We now call for the release of Alyaksandr Zdvizhkou, the editor of the weekly 'Zhoda', who is serving a three-year sentence for reprinting cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, as his detention is a press freedom violation," Reporters Without Borders said.

Arrested on 3 April 2007, Klimau was sentenced on 1 August 2007 to two years in prison for "inciting the overthrow of the regime" in an online article accusing President Alexander Lukashenko of being implicated in the murder of former deputy prime minister Viktar Hanshar.

Klimau's release had not been expected before October at the earliest. The release of political prisoners as a goodwill gesture has always been a prior condition of any rapprochement with the EU.

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