Prominent Belarusian opposition activist Syarhey Kavalenka, whose health deteriorated after a lengthy hunger strike earlier this year, has been released from prison.
Kavalenka and his wife arrived in their home city of Vitsebsk overnight. Kavalenka’s mother says her son was freed after he had to ask for clemency.
She said Kavalenka had asked for a pardon under increasing pressure from prison authorities, who put him in solitary confinement and blackmailed him.
Syarhey Kavalenka, a member of the Conservative Christian Party, was sentenced to a suspended three-year prison sentence in 2010 for putting a white-red-white flag on top of Vitsyebsk’s tallest Christmas tree in early January.
He was sentenced in February to 25 months in jail for violating the terms of his parole for a conviction on charges of “illegally displaying the banned Belarusian national flag.”
Kavalenka has denied committing the offense.
Officials force-fed him before, during, and after the trial because of his prolonged hunger strike.