MOSCOW — A courtroom in Belarus on Tuesday convicted an opposition chief on prices of organizing mass unrest and inciting social hatred over his try to problem the nation’s authoritarian chief, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, in a presidential election final 12 months. It additionally sentenced him to 18 years in jail.
The activist, Sergei Tikhanovsky, 43, ran a preferred YouTube channel in Belarus earlier than asserting his candidacy forward of the 2020 vote. However he was arrested earlier than the election, an act that prompted his spouse, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, to step in and lead the favored motion in opposition to Mr. Lukashenko.
After months of closed hearings, a courtroom within the metropolis of Gomel, Mr. Tikhanovsky’s hometown, confirmed that it had rendered its verdict on Tuesday. He was on trial together with 5 different defendants, together with Nikolai Statkevich, 65, who ran in opposition to Mr. Lukashenko within the 2010 presidential election. The 5 different defendants had been sentenced to jail phrases starting from 14 to 16 years.
Ever since mass protests set off by Mr. Lukashenko’s re-election for a sixth time period as president in August 2020 — a vote widely regarded as rigged — the Belarusian chief has unleashed a marketing campaign of political oppression unseen in Europe for many years. Hundreds of individuals, together with opposition leaders, protesters and those that subscribed to unbiased media shops, have been detained. Rights teams regard a whole bunch of them as political prisoners.
In July, a Belarusian courtroom convicted one other presidential hopeful, Viktor Babariko, on corruption prices and sentenced him to 14 years in jail. A former head of a Russian state-owned financial institution, Mr. Babariko led the polls earlier than the 2020 vote however was arrested weeks earlier than Election Day. He has denied the fees.
In September, Maria Kolesnikova, one of the leaders of the protest movement that adopted the election, was sentenced to 11 years in jail after regulation enforcement officers did not push her in another country. She is now main the motion in opposition to Mr. Lukashenko from exile in Lithuania.
In a video statement launched earlier than the decision, Ms. Tikhanovskaya vowed “to proceed to defend the individual I really like, who has turn out to be a pacesetter for thousands and thousands of Belarusians.” She added, “I’ll attempt to do one thing very tough, maybe not possible, in an effort to carry nearer the second once we will see him within the new Belarus.”