In Belarus, the husband of Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya sentenced to eighteen years in prison

It is the heaviest sentence handed down so far against a Belarusian opponent. Blogger Sergei Tsikhanovsky, husband of Svetlana Tsikhanovskaïa, the leader of the opposition in exile, was sentenced, Tuesday, December 14, to eighteen years in prison for “organizing massive unrest”, “incitement to hatred”, “Disturbing public order” and “obstructing the Electoral Commission”.

Read the decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers In Belarus, chain trial of Lukashenko’s opponents

Even Viktor Babariko, considered the most serious opponent of President Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential election of August 2020, had not been sentenced to such a severe sentence – arrested before the election, he was sentenced to fourteen years of prison, and its campaign manager, 11-year-old Maria Kolesnikova. “This record conviction reflects the regime’s anger towards Tsikhanovsky, whom he perceives as a significant threat, and the instigator of the protest movement”, explains political analyst Artyom Shraibman. The 43-year-old blogger was very critical of the Belarusian president, whose fraudulent re-election sparked unprecedented protests. The fact that he is the husband of Svetlana Tsikhanovskaïa, who has become the face of the Belarusian opposition, is probably not unrelated to the severity of his sentence either.

“The dictator takes public revenge on his fiercest opponents. By hiding political prisoners in closed-door trials, he hopes to continue the crackdown in silence. But the whole world is watching. We will not stop ”, reacted Mme Tsikhanovskaya on Twitter. A few hours before the verdict, she had posted a video, sitting in front of a portrait of her husband. “I will continue to defend this man whom I love and who has become a leader for millions of Belarusians”, she underlined, saying she was ready “To do the impossible” to find it as soon as possible.

912 Belarusian political prisoners

The blogger had been on trial since June with other co-accused in Homiel, in the south-east of the country. Almost no information has filtered out about this trial, held behind closed doors. Defense lawyers have been banned from speaking on pain of losing the right to practice. Another major opposition figure, Mikola Statkevich, 65, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Artiom Sakov and Dmitri Popov, who worked for Mr. Tsikhanovsky, were sentenced to sixteen years. Power critic Vladimir Tsyganovich and Igor Lossik, a 29-year-old opposition journalist, were both sentenced to 15 years in prison. According to the human rights NGO Viasna, Belarus now has 912 political prisoners.

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In Belarus, the husband of Svetlana Tsikhanovskaya sentenced to eighteen years in prison