Opposition politician Marynich dies at 74

Prominent opposition politician and former political prisoner Mikhail Marynich died in Minsk on October 17. He was 74.

The cause of Mr. Marynich's death was not immediately known.

Born in the Homyel region, Mr. Marynich graduated from two universities and also finished the Communist Party Higher School in Minsk before his election to the Supreme Soviet of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Mr. Marynich served as Prague-based ambassador to the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, and Riga-based ambassador to Latvia, Estonia and Finland. In addition, he served as minister for external economic relations between 1994 and 1998.

The politician planned to run for president in 2001 but failed to gather the required number of ballot-access signatures.

In December 2004, Mr. Marynich was sentenced to five years in prison in a bizarre case in which he was found guilty of stealing computers from the US Embassy in Minsk, although the embassy had not reported any such theft. In 2005, Amnesty International declared Mr. Marynich a prisoner of conscience. He was released on parole in April 2006, more than one year after suffering a stroke behind the bars. // BelaPAN