Moscow, Dec 14 (EFE).- Belarusian opposition leader Sergei Tikhanovsky was handed an 18-year prison sentence Tuesday for inciting riots in a trial condemned by human rights groups and opponents of president Alexander Lukashenko as a sham.
Tikhanovsky is the husband of Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who ran as the main Belarusian opposition candidate in the August 2020 elections before going into self-exile in Lithuania after president Lukashenko claimed victory in the polls, which are regarded by the West as fraudulent.
Tijanovski had been accused of preparing and organizing mass riots at the start of the 2020 election campaigns.
The opposition leader had planned to challenge Lukashenko in the elections but his application was rejected by the Central Election Commission and he was detained in May for collecting signatures for his wife, whose application to run for president had finally been approved.
Tuesday’s verdict, delivered at a court in Gomel, a city in southeastern Belarus, said the 43-year-old had called for violence against officials and members of the security forces through social media.
“I will continue to defend the person I love and who became the leader of millions of Belarusians,” his wife, Tikhanovskaya, posted on social media.
“The dictator publicly takes revenge on his strongest opponents. While hiding the political prisoners in closed trials, he hopes to continue repressions in silence. But the whole world watches,” she said after the sentencing.
Tikhanovsky became one of the most popular men in the former Soviet republic after launching his Youtube channel ‘A country for life’ in which he spoke of the arbitrariness of the Belarusian bureaucracy.
Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and has overseen a crackdown on all opposition leaders, most of whom have been either forced into exile or detained. EFE