When the regime sentences an opposition leader to 18 years in prison, it says something about how deep political corruption runs.
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Sergei Tikhanovsky planned to challenge Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in last year’s elections. Instead he was arrested and charged with disturbing public order.
The “trial” of the 43-year-old was held behind closed doors in Minsk. He was found guilty on Tuesday of organizing riots and inciting hatred. Tikhanovsky was also convicted on a number of other charges.
Five other “accomplices” were convicted in the same case, including Mykola Statkevich (65). Veteran politician received 14 years in prison.
It is not surprising that a morally bankrupt system operates in this way. President Lukashenko has shown for many years that he does not respect human rights, freedom of association, or international law.
The absurd farce of the trial and the appalling outcome still represents a new low for Lukashenko. It shows that the tyrant in Minsk not only controls the country’s security forces, police and judiciary, and is ready to spread state power against his own people. But these foundations can also be used.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s husband was sentenced to 18 years in prison
The situation is especially dangerous, because this state attack on the opposition to Lukashenko shows that the courts are not able to resist, but, on the contrary, are a calculated part of the repressive apparatus of the regime.
It cannot be said with greater clarity that Belarus is separate from international law and justice. A society at the mercy of the president, in which the regime unscrupulously uses the state’s means of power to keep political opposition in check.
If it looks like a dictatorship, acts like a dictatorship and acts like a dictatorship – it’s probably a dictatorship. And this is in Europe.
The EU condemns the sentencing of Sergei Tikhonovsky, citing his persecution and other opposition figures as “part of the ongoing, brutal and systematic repression of all independent voices in Belarus”.
“The dictator is publicly taking revenge on one of his strongest opponents,” Tikhanovsky’s wife, Svetlana Tikanovskaya, wrote on Twitter yesterday. She took over as opposition leader after her husband’s arrest, and now coordinates political opposition to Lukashenko from exile in neighboring Lithuania.
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Since 2020, hundreds of critics of the president have been arrested. Many of them were sentenced to long prison terms. The system itself states that 650 people are imprisoned for “various crimes against the state”, but this number is estimated to be grossly underreported.
It is said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not particularly impressed with Alexander Lukashenko. Their personal relationship should be measured fairly. At the same time, with its position towards the external borders of both NATO and the European Union, Belarus is an important ally.
In light of Putin’s streak of aggression toward Ukraine, the Russians see well the fact that Lukashenko’s Belarus remains a stable and unstable bulwark against the West. Unfortunately, this does not bode well for Belarusians who dream of freedom and democracy.
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