Depth of hockey championship: EU urges Minsk to release jailed opposition activists

The European Union’s European External Action Service (EEAS) has urged the Belarusian authorities to immediately release the more than 30 civil society and opposition activists who were arrested and sentenced to jail terms of up to 25 days on the eve of the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk.

‘We are concerned about the harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention of several dozens of representatives of civil society and opposition organizations in the run-up to the World Ice Hockey Championship in Belarus,’ the EEAS spokesperson says in a statement. ‘We condemn the use of administrative detention by the Belarusian authorities as an instrument aimed at creating pressure, fear and uncertainty among the young generation of people in Belarus.’

‘We urge the authorities of Belarus to immediately stop these actions and to release all those unjustly detained, dropping all charges against them,’ the statement says. ‘We also reiterate our call for the immediate and unconditional release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners.’

‘The EU’s readiness to further develop relations with Belarus remains conditional on concrete steps in Belarus towards democracy, human rights and the rule of law,’ the statement stresses.

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