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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 18:14 GMT
EU appeal over Belarus dissident
Alexander Kozulin (file photo)
Alexander Kozulin began a hunger strike on Sunday
The European Union has appealed to Belarus to let jailed opposition leader Alexander Kozulin - who is on hunger strike - attend his wife's funeral.

Mr Kozulin was the opposition candidate in the 2006 presidential polls. His wife died of cancer on Saturday.

EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner called for his release to attend the funeral.

She also urged President Alexander Lukashenko to stop detaining opponents on political grounds.

"I hope and I would appreciate this as an important signal, that the Belarus authorities will let Mr Kozulin attend [Tuesday's] funeral in Minsk," she said.

Mr Kozulin, 52, was jailed for five-and-a-half years after helping organise protests against President Lukashenko's re-election.

He began his hunger strike on Sunday, and his two daughters, Olga and Yulia, say they are also now on hunger strike.

The US embassy in the Belarusian capital Minsk offered condolences to him and his daughters, repeating its call that "political prisoners" be freed.

Washington and Brussels have imposed sanctions against President Lukashenko, accusing him of suppressing political opposition, muzzling the media and holding flawed elections.

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