A court in Belarus sentenced Svetlana Tichanovskaya in absentia to 15 years in prison on Monday. Tikhanovskaya, who resides abroad, is considered the primary political opponent of Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Another opposition member, Pavel Latushko, has also been sentenced to 18 years in prison. This is reported by the human rights organization Viasna and the state-controlled news agency Balta. The two opposition members were suspected of “conspiracy to seize power by unconstitutional means”.
Tikhanovskaya was Lukashenko’s main challenger in the 2020 presidential election. However, Lukashenko, who has dictated the law in his country since 1994, was again declared the winner. Still, the opposition blamed this on massive fraud and, like the European Union, refused to the election results to acknowledge. As a result, a mass protest movement arose, which was brutally crushed by the Belarusian president. As a result, Tikhanovskaya fled to Lithuania, from where she continued to give a face to the resistance against Lukashenko.
Tikhanovskaya has already announced that she will continue her political struggle. “Today, I am not thinking about my own conviction. Instead, I think of the thousands of innocents, detainees and people sentenced to real prison terms,” she wrote on Twitter. “I will not stop until every one of them is released.” Tikhanovskaya has also called the trial against her a “farce”.
The regime of President Aleksandr Lukashenko is cracking down on his opponents. Last Friday, Belarusian Nobel Prize winner and human rights activist Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to ten years in prison.