Belarusian authorities have released two men seen by opposition politicians and the West as political prisoners. The move was applauded by the United States and was widely seen as part of a bid by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to improve ties with the West. Andrei Kim and Sergei Parsyukevich said they had been released Wednesday on orders from Lukashenko. A top opposition figure, Alexander Kozulin, was released from prison last week. The top US diplomat in Belarus said the new releases were an important event, but that it would take time to determine whether the Belarusian authorities are ready to really change their ways.