The trial of exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya has begun in Belarus. According to the official news agency, the trial began today in the absence of the 40-year-old and four of her allies in the capital, Minsk. Tichanovskaya and the co-defendants are accused of high treason and “conspiracy to seize power unconstitutionally”.
Tichanovskaya, who is currently living in Lithuania, had previously described the trial to AFP as a “farce” and “personal revenge” by authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko. “I don’t even know what the alleged lawyer will do tomorrow in this court, how he will defend me,” said Tikhanovskaya. “I don’t know how long this process will take, how many days, but I’m sure they will sentence me to prison for many years.”
Mass protests by election
Tichanovskaya ran against Lukashenko in the presidential elections in Belarus in the summer of 2020. After his controversial re-election, which was not recognized by the West, Tichanovskaya criticized her harshly. The post-election mass protests were violently suppressed by the ruler, who had been in power for three decades. Thousands of people were arrested or fled abroad, including Tichanovskaya.
The 40-year-old is considered the face of the Belarusian opposition, and she regularly condemns the government’s constant attacks. In addition to her, opposition and activists Maria Moros, Pavel Latushko, Olga Kovalkova and Sergei Delewski were also charged.
Since the protests, Belarusian authorities have continued to suppress critical voices. The human rights organization Viazna currently holds more than 1,400 political prisoners. The trial of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and founder of Vyaznya, Ales Byalyatsky, opened in Minsk at the beginning of January. The democracy activist and two co-defendants also face up to twelve years in prison.
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