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RIA Novosti

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Belarus opposition leader must wait months for trial - lawyer

20:25 05/04/2006
MOSCOW, April 5 (RIA Novosti) - A Belarusian opposition leader arrested during protests in Minsk March 25 will spend at least two more months in prison before his case comes to court, a defense lawyer said Wednesday.

"Investigation usually takes two months. However, if the case becomes politically charged, it will be hard to guess how long it will take. Anyway, [Alexander] Kozulin is ready for trial," defense attorney Igor Rynkevich said.

Kozulin has been charged with hooliganism and public disorder offenses over his involvement in a protest rally against the results of presidential elections March 19. The elections ended with a landslide victory and third term in office for Alexander Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington.

The Belarusian opposition denounced the elections as fraudulent, and staged a sit-in protest on central Oktyabrskaya Square in the capital, Minsk. The rally was broken up by force, as was a demonstration March 25 that saw hundreds arrested and, the opposition alleges, left at least one protestor dead.

Rynkevich said Kozulin had earlier pleaded not guilty, and had refused to give testimony.

Kozulin faces punishment ranging from a fine to six years in prison.

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