Belarus court jails Opposition leader’s husband for 18 years

Siarhei Tsikhanouski

Siarhei Tsikhanouski

Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the husband of Belarus’s Opposition leader, was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 years in jail for organising mass unrest and inciting social hatred, the official Belta news agency reported.

Five supporters of Mr. Tsikhanouski were tried along with him and sentenced to prison terms ranging from 14 to 16 years.

Mr. Tsikhanouski, a video blogger, was jailed in May 2020 as he prepared to run against Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko in a presidential election in August that year. He denied the charges.

His wife Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya ran in his place in the election, which led to months of mass protests after Mr. Lukashenko claimed a landslide victory and the opposition accused him of rigging the ballot.

A few hours before the verdict was pronounced, Ms. Tsikhanouskaya called it “illegal” and something that “should not be tolerated”.

“Commenting on the so-called “verdict”, I will ask myself only one question: what will I do with this news? And I will continue to defend the person I love, who has become a leader for millions of Belarusians,” she said in a video message.

“I will try to do something very difficult, perhaps impossible, in order to bring closer the moment when we will see him in the new Belarus.”

Ms. Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania to escape a sweeping crackdown after the election. She has since gained prominence, meeting an array of western leaders. Mr. Tsikhanouski’s trial was closed to the public and lawyers were banned from disclosing details of the case.

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Printable version | May 18, 2022 1:24:13 am |