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Belarusian justice sentences opposition leader to 15 years in prison in absentia

A court in Minsk sentenced Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tijanovskaya to 15 years in absentia on Monday after pleading guilty to charges including an unconstitutional seizure of power.

As the Belarusian agency BELTA reports, the court convicted four more exiled opponents in the same case, including the former Minister of Culture Pavel Latushko and a member of the Coordination Council for the Democratic Transition in Belarus. Latushko was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Maria Moroz, Olga Kovalkova and Sergey Dilevski were sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Belarusian prosecutors requested 19 years in prison for Tiyanovskaya and Latushko, and 12 years for the other defendants. All the convicts are in exile in Lithuania or Poland and were sentenced in absentia.

In an interview with after leaving Belarus, Tizhanovskaya said: “I went to the Central Election Commission to bring documents that show that we are sure the election was rigged. There were high officials there and they told me that they would give me the opportunity to leave if I read this paper, otherwise they would put me in prison for a long time.

The court condemned Tizhanovskaya and other opponents for unconstitutionally organizing the seizure of state power; create an extremist formation; and made public calls to seize state power and commit other acts aimed at harming the national security of Belarus.

They were also found guilty of deliberate acts aimed at inciting social enmity and discord.

The opposition leader, who sees himself as the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election, which has been described as rigged by the opposition and much of the West and which has sparked the biggest protests in Belarus’ history, has previously said the judiciary has become a “machine of repression and terror” in his country.

The opposition leader reduced the sentence and said on the Telegram channel that with or without him, the democratic forces will continue to “do everything to free political prisoners and achieve democratic changes in the country.”

Protests after the presidential election, in which head of state Alexander Lukashenko sought a sixth term, were violently suppressed amid allegations of torture.

There are a total of 1,438 political prisoners in Belarus, including bloggers, businessmen, activists, protesters and presidential candidates, including Tizhanovskaya’s husband, Sergei Tiyanovsky, according to rights group Vesná.

In December last year, Lukashenko commuted or commuted the sentences of 4,500 prisoners under an amnesty law, but none were detained for protesting against election fraud.

Last week, a court in Minsk sentenced prominent Belarusian human rights activist and 2022 Nobel Prize laureate Ales Bialyatsky to 10 years in prison on Friday, according to his presiding organization Viasna.

Source: El Diario





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