MINSK, March 30 (Reuters) – Belarus has softened charges against two former presidential candidates arrested during the protests against President Alexander Lukashenko’s reelection last December, the Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.
Lukashenko secured a fourth term in office in the election dismissed by the opposition and Western observers as fraudulent. Police rounded up hundreds of protesters who took to the streets of capital Minsk the day after the vote.
Vladimir Neklyayev, a 64-year-old poet, and Vitaly Rymashevsky, the leader of opposition Christian Democratic Party, were among five presidential candidates arrested during the protests.
Both have faced prison terms of up to 15 years on charges of organising mass unrest.
But the Interior Ministry said the two now faced only lesser charges of organising acts that disturbed public order which carry a prison term of up to three years.