Belarusian opposition leader sentenced to 18 years in prison


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After a trial that often took place behind closed doors, Dikanovsky was convicted of charges including “organizing mass riots” and inciting anti-social behavior, which critics say was politically motivated. Three more were convicted and sentenced to more than a decade in prison.

According to Belda, officials accused Dikanovsky of calling for violence against the government and law enforcement. The verdict can be legally appealed within 10 days.

Celebrity blogger and activist Dikanovsky was arrested shortly after announcing his candidacy for the presidency in May 2020.

His wife stood in his place, but lost in August of that year in a controversial match against Alexander Lukashenko, the strongest leader to rule Belarus for more than 25 years. His campaign and many international observers claimed that the vote was rigged by widespread ballot papers and falsification.

“The existence of these people is a crime against the regime. They are being oppressed in order to live in independent Belarus,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday.

Dikanovskaya added that the longest sentence given to an individual in this situation was that of her husband.

“The dictator publicly avenges his strongest opponents,” Dikanovskaya said. “While political prisoners are kept hidden in closed trials, he hopes the repression will continue peacefully. But the whole world is watching. We will not stop.”

After the arrest of her husband, Dikanovskaya became the impossible face of an opposition movement seeking to overthrow Lukashenko, and his long tenure earned him the nickname “Europe’s last dictator”.

His campaign rallies ahead of the August 2020 referendum received significant votes, even in small Belarusian cities unknown for their protest action. About 63,000 people attended the largest event in the capital, Minsk, in July last year the largest demonstration of the last decade.

Despite widespread support for Dikanovskaya, protests erupted after the release of official polls showing that Lukashenko was heading for victory.

According to official results, Lukashenko won the election with 80.23% of Dikanovskaya’s 9.9% of the vote but independent observers said there was widespread fraud.

Dikanovskaya fled Belarus to Lithuania after publicly rejecting the preliminary election results. She and her children have emigrated there ever since.
Svetlana Dikanovskaya traveled to the United States this summer to meet with President Joe Biden and several other officials in his administration to press for sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.

This story has been updated.


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