Kazulin released from prison to attend father-in-law’s funeral amid pardon rumors

Former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin has been released from prison to attend the funeral service for his father-in-law amid rumors...

Alyaksandr Kazulin Former presidential candidate Alyaksandr Kazulin has been released from prison to attend the funeral service for his father-in-law amid rumors that he has been pardoned.

As Dr. Kazulin’s daughter, Volha, told BelaPAN, the administration of the Vitsba-3 correctional facility, where her father is serving his sentence, was informed of the death of 77-year-old Ivan Sabalewski on Saturday morning and news of the politician’s release came a few hours later.

Volha said that her father was heading for Dzyarzhynsk, a town some 40 kilometers southwest of Minsk, to attend the funeral scheduled for August 17.

The woman said that it was not clear how long Dr. Kazulin was allowed to stay out of prison.

In an interview with the Belarusian service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Volha said, “We don’t know what happened, on what grounds this is happening. We need to think what should be done next. He is heading home and, hopefully, he is heading home for long.”

A report posted on the Nasha Niva newspaper’s website said with reference to Dr. Kazulin’s brother, Uladzimir, that the politician on August 16 was shown a pardon edict signed by Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The opposition politician’s release came a few days after German Ambassador Gebhardt Weiss held what was described as a “working meeting” at the Presidential Administration.

Several opposition politicians viewed as political prisoners were released shortly after a similar meeting between Mr. Weiss and Alyaksandr Lukashenka earlier this year.

Dr. Kazulin, rector of Belarusian State University between 1996 and 2003 who was a candidate in Belarus’ 2006 presidential election, was released from prison for three days this past February to attend the funeral of his wife, Iryna.

Dr. Kazulin, 52, was arrested during a police crackdown on a peaceful post-election demonstration on March 25, 2006. He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in a minimum security correctional institution on charges widely believed to be politically motivated. Amnesty International has declared Dr. Kazulin a prisoner of conscience.