A Belarusian court has sentenced the country’s exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to 15 years in prison. Another prominent opponent, Pavel Latushko, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and three others were sentenced to 12 years in prison, Euro News reported citing state news agency Belta and the human rights organisation Viasna.
Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya was charged with 12 crimes, including “conspiracy to take power unconstitutionally,” according to the Euro News report. Tsikhanouskaya took to her official Twitter handle to react to the court’s verdict. In a tweet, Tsikhanouskaya wrote, “15 years of prison. This is how the regime “rewarded” my work for democratic changes in Belarus. But today I don’t think about my own sentence. I think about thousands of innocents, detained & sentenced to real prison terms. I won’t stop until each of them is released.”
Tsikhanouskaya became popular after running in Belarus’ disputed presidential election in 2020, Euro News reported. A series of mass protests were reported after the election, which were met with arrests, cases of torture, the death of several demonstrators, harsh sentences and forced exile. As per the news report, Viasna has estimated that Belarus had 1,461 political prisoners as of 1 March 2023.
On Friday, the Leninsky District Court in Minsk sentenced Belarusian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ales Bialiatski to 10 years in a maximum security penal colony and fined him about USD 65,000, TASS reported. Ales Bialiatski, who heads the unregistered Vesna Human Rights Center, was found guilty of criminal charges registered against him.
Vesna representatives Valentin Stefanovich and Vladimir Labkovich, who was implicated in the case along with Bialiatski, were sentenced to 9 and 7 years, respectively, in a maximum security penal colony. Meanwhile, Dmitry Solovyov, who is currently outside of Belarus, was sentenced to eight years in prison, as per the TASS report. The court imposed a fine of around USD 40,000 each upon each defendant.