MINSK, Belarus (AP) _ Belarusian authorities released a former prime minister from jail Tuesday, eight months after his arrest and following European diplomats' sharp objections to his detention.

Former Premier Mikhail Chigir was released after being visited by a top official from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He still faces a trial on corruption charges.

``I hope the trial will be fair,'' he told The Associated Press after his release.

Chigir served as premier under President Alexander Lukashenko until he resigned in protest in 1996 after Lukashenko disbanded parliament and rewrote the country's constitution to give the president more power.

Police arrested Chigir in March after he registered to run as a candidate in opposition-sponsored presidential elections held in May. Lukashenko did not recognize the unofficial elections.

Chigir was arrested the day after he registered in the race. The opposition maintains the charges were trumped up.

Lukashenko has cracked down on dissent and several opposition leaders have been jailed in recent years.