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Belarusian Opposition Politician Faces New Criminal Charge

KGB investigators have charged opposition politician Mikhail Marynich with stealing office equipment from the Business Initiative think tank, an NGO of which he is chairman, Belapan reported on 26 August, quoting Marynich's lawyer, Vera Stramkouskaya.

At the same time they prolonged his detention by one month. Marynich has been in custody since 26 April on charges of illegal possession of firearms.

Stramkouskaya said the new charge is a "far-fetched" pretext to keep the politician in jail.

"Apart from the fact that [the new charge] carries a prison term of up to 15 years, it also provides for property confiscation," Stramkouskaya said. "That is, [the KGB] will be allowed to keep the $90,000 seized from Mr. Marynich."

Earlier this week the KGB denied a meeting with Marynich to visiting members of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.

(RFE/RL 27.viii.04)

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